Fighting Fear with Facts: Taking Action to Make a Difference in Lung Cancer

Despite advances in treatment and care, lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States for several years. Nearly half of lung cancer cases in the US are not detected until a late stage when the survival rate is only 6%, and people of color are even less likely to be diagnosed early when there is opportunity to treat with the intent to cure. The COVID-19 pandemic has severely worsened this crisis, causing more people to go undiagnosed until their cancer reaches a later stage when the disease may be harder to treat. And through it all, the prevailing stigma of lung cancer as a “smoker’s disease”, due to decades of anti-smoking campaigns, has inhibited timely screenings – even though there are many other environmental causes, genetic mutations and lifestyle factors unrelated to smoking (such as obesity and drinking alcohol) that can cause lung cancer. This stigma remains a significant barrier to diagnoses and treatment, even though tens of thousands who have never smoked are estimated to be diagnosed each year.

A recent poll conducted in partnership with Harris titled “Lung Cancer Perceptions and Sentiment,” of 5,000 adults living in the US, including smokers, non-smokers, and former smokers, further solidified these sentiments and concerns. The survey revealed a high level of stigma associated with lung cancer, along with a lack of awareness of screenings and how they work:

  • Nearly 1 in 3 respondents believe a person with lung cancer is more to blame for getting cancer than a person who develops any other form of cancer, and nearly half (48%) say there is a stigma associated with lung cancer.
  • Just 21% of all respondents say they are very aware of lung cancer screenings, and even fewer (10%) have a strong understanding of how lung cancer screening works.
  • 41% say it is very or somewhat difficult for the people in their community to get cancer screenings.

But together, we can change this reality. Announced at the 2020 World Conference on Lung Cancer on January 28th, AstraZeneca has launched a revolutionary movement to completely shift the lung cancer conversation in the US to unite the lung cancer community under a set of common goals. This movement will focus on four key pillars – stigma, screening and diagnosis, quality of care, and belief in survivability – and is set to achieve the following in the next five years:

1.    Reduce stigma associated with lung cancer among the general population by 10%

2.    Increase awareness of lung cancer screening in eligible populations, and lung cancer screening rates among these same populations, from 5-6% to 12%

3.    Double the 5-year overall survival rates across all lung cancer stages and indications from 20.5% to 45%

4.    Decrease disparities in early diagnosis, receiving treatment, and survivability in minority populations by 7-10%

5.    Increase positive perception of survivability among HCPs and the general population

We recognize that nothing short of a fundamental shift in the approach and perception of a lung cancer diagnosis is needed – and we understand we cannot do this alone. By partnering with patients and advocates to educate people beyond the lung cancer community and working with governments of all levels to develop actionable policy changes, we can make real differences in the lives of those affected by this disease.

How You Can Get Involved

You can test your knowledge and explore more findings from the “Lung Cancer Perceptions and Sentiment” survey. Be sure to check back for more resources and information.

Encourage your family, friends and colleagues to join the movement by sharing the below messages or making your own commitment to challenge lung cancer on social media:

Twitter

  • Together we can challenge lung cancer and help dispel the stigma and misinformation that impacts those living with this disease. Learn more about the movement here: https://bit.ly/3otQNPR #LCSM
  • #DYK that lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the US? Let’s challenge lung cancer by fighting fear with facts. Learn more here: https://bit.ly/3otQNPR #LCSM
  • Despite advances in treatment and care, lung cancer has remained the leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. Together, we can help change this reality. Learn how to challenge lung cancer here: https://bit.ly/3otQNPR #LCSM

Facebook

  • Together we can challenge lung cancer and help dispel the stigma and misinformation that impacts those living with this disease. Learn more about the movement here: https://bit.ly/3otQNPR #LCSM
  • #DYK that lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the US? Let’s challenge lung cancer by fighting fear with facts. Learn more here: https://bit.ly/3otQNPR #LCSM
  • Despite advances in treatment and care, lung cancer has remained the leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. Together, we can help change this reality. Learn how to challenge lung cancer here: https://bit.ly/3otQNPR #LCSM