The leading cause of death of men and women in the United States is lung cancer. For 30 days, this disease is will be pushed to the forefront of some public health discussions.
Why? Because November is National Lung Cancer Awareness Month, designed to increase the public awareness of this prevalent disease.
This cancer, which claims the lives of over 150,000 Americans per year, along with related diseases such as mesothelioma, continue to be misunderstood and underfunded.
More Research & Funding Is Needed
As National Lung Cancer Awareness Month follows October, a month recognized as Breast Cancer Awareness Month through prominent organizations like Susan G. Komen Foundation, some doctors and patients advocate that more attention needs to be paid to lung cancer in November.
Gerold Bepler, M.D., an internationally recognized lung cancer researcher at the Moffitt Cancer Center, is one of these doctors.
“This disease affects everyone, yet research funding and clinical trial participation lag seriously behind other cancers. Unfortunately, because of these factors, the overall survival rate for lung cancer has seen only minor improvements over the last 30 years,” Bepler said.
It is estimated that about 28 percent of all cancer deaths in 2010 were from lung cancer, and that smoking contributed to between 80 and 90 percent of the cases.
The number of deaths attributed to lung cancer has increased by an estimated 4 percent between 1999 and 2006.
Some advocates believe increased funding and research will allow experts to find better treatments in hope of decreasing the number of related deaths.
Lung Cancer & Mesothelioma
Just as smoking increases the risk of developing lung cancer, so does asbestos exposure. When the two health hazards are combined, a person can be at serious risk of contracting the disease, according to the Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry.
During the month of November, the public may also take a closer look at a disease that is closely related to lung cancer, known as mesothelioma, which is also caused by asbestos exposure.
Mesothelioma is a rare cancer of the lining of the lung that affects between 2,000 and 3,000 people per year and has no known cure.
As treatment procedures are considered palliative, mesothelioma patients may consider newer and unproven treatment options like clinical trials to battle the cancer if diagnosed early enough.