lung cancer awareness month
HOME · Mind & Body
date

Lung Cancer Awareness Month: Celebration, Causes, and Campaigns

In November, the world recognizes Lung Cancer Awareness Month. This annual observance seeks to raise awareness and spark dialogue about this deadly disease. It also sheds information on the major risk factors, the importance of prevention, and the advancements in treatment options.

As we bring these important issues to the fore, it's also an opportunity to pay tribute to cancer survivors and space to honor those we've lost. As we go through this guide to Lung Cancer Awareness Month, we'll cover its history, the symptoms of lung cancer, recent statistics, and some practical tips to get involved. 

Featured in: November- Awareness months, days, and observances

History of Lung Cancer Awareness Month

life should take your breath away not lung cancer
Image courtesy Lung Cancer Foundation of America. Click here or here for more assets you can share for this year's campaign.

This annual celebration started in 1979 when a determined group of lung cancer survivors and advocates decided to take a stand. They recognized a stark discrepancy: lung cancer was the leading cause of cancer death, yet it remained underfunded and overlooked. So, they founded the Lung Cancer Alliance, which merged with a foundation to form GO2 Foundation for Lung Cancer. The organization declared November Lung Cancer Awareness Month. 

At first, the initiative was just a one-day awareness drive in 1995, not the month-long campaign we know today. It expanded as more people realized its importance. 2021 was the first Shine a Light on Lung Cancer Vigil. And in 2004, the organization gave us the first comprehensive support program for people with lung cancer.

The organization's unyielding push for early detection led to the inclusion of low-dose CT scans in the Affordable Care Act - a monumental step forward. What started as a humble week-long awareness drive has become a worldwide event. It unites organizations across the globe in a battle against lung cancer.

Signs and Symptoms of Lung Cancer

As we celebrate Lung Cancer Awareness Month, it's crucial to know its symptoms early on. It's important to note that signs and symptoms of lung cancers can vary depending on the stage of the disease and its specific type. Here are some common signs you need to look out for:

  • Persistent Cough: A long-lasting or chronic cough that worsens over time is a common early symptom of lung cancer. It may produce mucus or blood.
  • Shortness of Breath: Lung cancer can cause a feeling of breathlessness or difficulty breathing, especially during physical activity.
  • Chest Pain: Lung cancer can cause chest pain that may be sharp, dull, or aching. The pain can be constant or intermittent.
  • Hoarseness: A change in the voice, such as persistent hoarseness, can be a symptom of lung cancer affecting the nerves in the chest.
  • Unexplained Weight Loss: Significant and unexplained weight loss can occur with lung cancer, even without diet or physical activity changes.
  • Fatigue: Feeling unusually tired or weak, even after adequate rest, can be a sign of lung cancer.
  • Recurrent Infections: Lung cancer can weaken the immune system, making individuals more susceptible to respiratory infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia.
  • Coughing up Blood: If blood in the mucus is coughed up from the lungs (hemoptysis), it could be a symptom of lung cancer.
  • Difficulty Swallowing: Lung cancer can sometimes cause pressure on the esophagus, leading to difficulty swallowing.

When in doubt, it's best to contact your primary care physician immediately. 

5 Risk Factors That Lead To Lung Cancer

doctor looking at lung scans
Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels

Do you know lung cancer is the world's leading cause of cancer deaths, accounting for a mind-boggling 1.8 million fatalities in 2020 alone? Furthermore, risk increases along with age. Lung cancer has two types: small-cell lung cancer and non-small-cell lung cancer. As the number one cancer, it's essential to know the causes which lead to this deadly disease.

  • Cigarette smoking and secondhand smoke undoubtedly top the list as the leading cause of lung cancer. It's responsible for about 85% of all cases. However, passive smokers (or secondhand smokers) are also vulnerable. Annually, there are over 480,000 deaths attributed to smoking, including deaths resulting from exposure to secondhand smoke. The best defense? Quit smoking and advocate for smoke-free spaces.
  • Radon gas is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that seeps unnoticed in our homes and workplaces. It's the second most common cause of this lung disease. Medical experts recommend regular checks for radon concentration, particularly in high-risk areas.
  • Workplaces can also increase the risk of lung cancer. Long-term exposure to asbestos, arsenic, diesel exhaust, and some forms of silica and chromium puts workers vulnerable.
  • The quality of air in our surroundings, both indoors and outdoors, is also a pivotal contributor to lung cancer. International Agency for Research on Cancer reports tiny particles can accumulate in the lungs, causing cell replication changes that could damage DNA and potentially cause lung cancer1.
  • Finally, a family history of lung cancer can tip the scales, even for non-smokers. The probability of developing lung cancer is also higher for lung cancer survivors.

Why Lung Cancer Screening Matters

lung cancer awareness month latest report
Early Diagnosis Map from State of Lung Cancer 2022

The American Lung Association's 2022 report highlights that 44% of lung cancer cases are diagnosed in the late stages, with a survival rate of only 7%. On the other hand, patients diagnosed in the early stages of lung cancer have a survival rate of 61%. This lung cancer report underscores the importance of annual lung cancer screening and early detection2.

By detecting lung cancer early, before it has spread to other parts of the body, individuals have a better chance of receiving timely and appropriate interventions that can significantly improve survival rates and quality of life.

Additionally, yearly lung cancer screening identifies the disease in individuals at high risk but who do not yet show symptoms. Most lung cancer cases are diagnosed at advanced stages, making treatment more challenging and reducing overall survival rates. 

5 Ways to Support Lung Cancer Awareness Month

Your effort can go a long way. Here are five practical tips to get involved, save lives and make a difference:

  • Educate Yourself and Others: Knowledge is power. Use reliable sources to gather information, and then share your knowledge with family, friends, and colleagues. Social media platforms, blog posts, or simple conversations can all be effective ways to spread awareness. Do not forget to add the hashtag #confrontlungcancer!
  • Participate in Fundraising Events: Many organizations and communities host fundraising events during Lung Cancer Awareness Month. Join local walks, runs, or other activities that aim to raise funds for lung cancer research, patient support, and advocacy.
  • Wear and Share the Ribbon: The white ribbon symbolizes lung cancer awareness. Wear it proudly throughout the month and encourage others to do the same. Sharing the ribbon's significance can lead to more conversations and increased awareness.
  • Advocate for Lung Cancer Research: Advocate for increased funding for lung cancer research at local, state, and national levels. Write letters to your representatives, sign petitions, and get involved with lung cancer advocacy groups to push for advancements in research, early detection, and better treatment options.
  • Support Lung Cancer Patients and Caregivers: Reach out to individuals and families impacted by lung cancer. Offer your support, empathy, and encouragement. Small gestures like sending a card, providing a meal, or offering a helping hand can make a significant difference in their lives during challenging times.

Conclusion

Lung Cancer Awareness Month is more than just a spotlight on a disease. More than anything else, it is a celebration of life and hope. It brings the precious message of unity and love that no one is left alone. And as the whole world comes together to fight, nothing is too difficult.

Lung Cancer Awareness Month FAQs

1. What is Lung Cancer Awareness Month?

That's a special month in November! It's all about raising awareness and promoting early detection of lung cancer.

2. What are lung cancer's risk factors?

Quite a few - smoking tops the list, also secondhand smoke. There's exposure to radon gas, asbestos, and air pollution. Finally, family history is also a risk factor.

3. How can I support Lung Cancer Awareness Month?

Share info, join events, donate to research, and encourage regular check-ups. Every bit helps!

1

Cohen, A. J., Samet, J. M., & Straif, K. (2013). Air Pollution and Cancer, IARC Scientific Publication No. 161. International Agency for Research on Cancer.

2

American Lung Association. (2022). State of Lung Cancer 2022.

By Chinny Verana, BSc.

Chinny Verana is a degree-qualified marine biologist and researcher passionate about nature and conservation. Her expertise allows her to deeply understand the intricate relationships between marine life and their habitats.

Her unwavering love for the environment fuels her mission to create valuable content for TRVST, ensuring that readers are enlightened about the importance of biodiversity, sustainability, and conservation efforts.

Fact Checked By:
Isabela Sedano, BEng.

Image: Midjourney
Pin Me:
Pin Image Portrait Lung Cancer Awareness Month: Celebration, Causes, and Campaigns
Sign Up for Updates
SIGN UP