On Your Health

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November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month

03 November 2015

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Did you know? November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month. According to the American Cancer Society, lung cancer is the most deadly cancer. Here are some startling facts:
  • Lung cancer accounts for 27% of all cancer deaths.
  • 1 in 15 people in the US will develop lung cancer.
  • Lung cancer has a 17% five-year survival rate. Compare that to prostate cancer (99%), breast cancer (89%), or colorectal cancer (65%).
  • Over 220,000 people are diagnosed each year in the US.
  • Nearly 160,000 people die each year from lung cancer.
  • Although smoking remains the leading risk factor for lung cancer, between 16,000 to 24,000 people who die of lung cancer each year in the US have never smoke
Because lung cancer has been labeled as the smoker’s disease, that stigma has encouraged many to mistakenly assume that only people who smoke are at risk. But lung cancer claims more lives each year than prostate, breast or colon cancer combined, and yet those three cancers receive an average of 7.5 times more research funding per life lost than lung cancer. However, as research funding grows, there are advances in treatment that are improving the outcome for people living with lung cancer. Second-hand smoke is also dangerous, and while many in Oklahoma have worked hard to get laws in place to make some public areas smoke-free, there are still places you can be exposed to second-hand smoke, as many young people are in their own homes.
National organizations like Free To Breathe are coming together to raise awareness about the nature of lung cancer today and help find a cure. Free to Breathe’s mission is to ensure surviving lung cancer is the expectation, not the exception. Its goal is to double lung cancer survival by 2022.
Last Sunday over 350 Free to Breathe supporters, including over 120 people on team INTEGRIS, came to Wheeler Park for the OKC Free to Breathe 2nd Annual Lung Cancer 5K Run/Walk. The participants have raised over $30,000 so far. Fundraising will remain open until December 31.

How can you reduce your risk of lung cancer?

If you currently smoke, the single most important thing you can do is quit. Your risk for lung cancer decreases significantly when you stop smoking. You can get help from the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline by visiting the website or calling 1-800-784-8669 (1-800-QUITNOW). Next, check your home for radon, the second-leading cause of lung cancer. Radon test kits and radon removal services are relatively inexpensive, and sometimes free. Learn more about radon kits and other devices from the EPA.

How can you help?

Lung cancer needs to be brought out of the shadows. Make a promise to all who have been touched by lung cancer that YOU will take action for Lung Cancer Awareness Month. You can bring more awareness to the disease by taking the Awareness Month Pledge and asking your friends to do the same.   Increased awareness is vital to the fight because that is what drives the research and funding needed to eradicate this disease. Individual people can have a huge impact, and now is time to focus our efforts on transforming lung cancer into a survivable disease.