There are many frustrating and inaccurate misconceptions about lung cancer. With the stigma that lung cancer patients face daily, it’s crucial to share the difference between myths and facts in order to end the misinformation. Advocacy can take on many forms and for World Lung Cancer Day on August 1st we encourage to you share information, question others’ perceptions of lung cancer, and take a step forward to end the stigma.
Myth: Only people who smoke can get lung cancer
Smoking tobacco is linked with an increased risk of lung cancer; however, non-smokers can still develop lung cancer. Up to 20% of lung cancer-related deaths occur in non-smokers.1 There is still a great deal of stigma surrounding lung cancer due to the smoking misconceptions. It’s important to raise awareness that, at the end of the day, all you need to get lung cancer is lungs.
Myth: More women die from breast cancer than lung cancer
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related death for both men and women. In women alone, lung cancer is the second most common cancer following breast cancer, which occurs more frequently. However, more women die from lung cancer than breast, uterine, and ovarian cancers combined.2
Myth: Lung cancer can’t be treated
There are a number of treatment options available for patients with lung cancer. Depending on the cancer’s stage and type, treatment could involve surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, targeted therapy, and immunotherapy. In recent years, a number of new lung cancer treatments have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and genomic testing for actionable mutations allows for a more personalized and tailored approach to treatment.
Myth: Young people can’t get lung cancer
Although lung cancer is more common in older people between the ages of 65-74, it can occur in younger individuals including children. Lung cancer diagnoses in younger people have been on the rise. New research has shown that lung cancer rates are increasing, specifically among white and Hispanic women, ages 30-54.3
Myth: Lung cancer is a death sentence
Despite lung cancer being the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States, numbers have been decreasing over the last decade.4 There are new treatment options changing the outlook for patients with lung cancer. Treatments like targeted therapy and immunotherapy, either used on their own or in combination with traditional treatment methods, have been showing promising outcomes in increasing survival rates. Lung cancer screening also offers hope for catching more cases of lung cancer in earlier stages, before the cancer has spread.
Not everyone understands what it’s like to have lung cancer. What’s something you wish your friends or family better understood about lung cancer?