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Cancer Awareness & Prevention

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Learn the facts about lung cancer

One of the more prolific and leading causes of cancer-related deaths among both men and women, lung cancer continues to affect the lives of millions of people each year. The American Lung Association says lung cancer is the most common cancer across the globe, accounting for roughly 1.8 million new cases each year. Although more men than women are diagnosed with lung cancer each year, more women live with the disease. The rates of lung cancer diagnoses in women have risen 98 percent over the past 37 years.

Despite the prevalence of lung cancer, some people remain in the dark about the particulars of this potentially deadly disease. Misinformation may also lead some to believe they are safer than they truly are. The following are some lung cancer statistics that may help men and women gain a better understanding of this deadly yet often preventable disease.

• Lung cancer claims more lives than breast, prostate and colon cancer combined, says the American Cancer Society.

• Survival rates among other cancers are higher than those of lung cancer. The five-year-survival rate of lung cancer is only 16.8 percent, compared to 89.2 percent for breast cancer.

• The National Cancer Institute says black men and women are more likely to develop and die from lung cancer than any other racial or ethnic group. The lung cancer incidence rate for black women is roughly equal to that of white women, despite the fact that black women smoke fewer cigarettes.

• Lung cancer is not exclusive to smokers. The ACS says almost 80 percent of new lung cancer cases occur in former smokers or people who have never smoked. Current smokers account for 20 percent of lung cancer cases.

• According to the Mary Horrigan Connors Center for Women's Health and Gender Biology of Brigham and Women's Hospital, and Harvard Medical School, lung cancer is among the least funded cancers in terms of research dollars per death.

• Lung cancer patients are routinely blamed for their condition, even though many cases of lung cancer are beyond their control — as is the case with non-smoking-related lung cancer. Radon causes around 10 percent of lung cancer cases and occupational exposure to carcinogens around another 10 to 15 percent, says the American Lung Association.

• Lung cancer may not produce early symptoms, but a cough that will not go away or chest pain may indicate the presence of the disease.

• Early detection of lung cancer is crucial to survival. Receiving treatment as early as possible can lower the risks associated with the disease, including its likeliness to spread to other organs.

Lung cancer remains a very serious threat. However, arming people with information can help those who may be at risk identify the ways to stay healthy and get the help or treatment they need. More information on lung cancer is available at