Lung Cancer Awareness Month
By Jake Konigsberg
What is Lung Cancer Awareness Month?
November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month. This month is devoted to raising awareness about and advocating against lung cancer, creating solidarity in the fight against the disease. The notion of taking time to honor and advance the fight against lung cancer began in 1995 with Lung Cancer Awareness Day. As the community grew and dedication to fight the disease strengthened, this single day evolved into a month, creating what we now know as Lung Cancer Awareness Month.
Lung Cancer General Information
Lung cancer forms when cells in the lung begin to grow and divide uncontrollably, forming a tumor. Lung cancers often start in the bronchi (air passageways that lead to the lung), bronchioles (a branch of air tubes in the lungs), or alveoli (air sacs at the end of the bronchioles).
Lung cancers generally fall into the categories of small cell lung cancer and non-small cell lung cancer. The categories are generally based upon how aggressive and common the form of lung cancer is. Small cell lung cancers are more aggressive yet less common, accounting for approximately 15% of lung cancer cases. Non-small cell lung cancers are less aggressive yet more common, accounting for approximately 85% of lung cancer cases.
Small cell lung cancer types:
- Small Cell Carcinoma– Also known as oat cell cancer. Very aggressive and often due to smoking. Occurs when cells in the lung tissue begin growing and dividing uncontrollably.
- Combined Small Cell Carcinoma– Small cell carcinomas occurring alongside other types of lung cancer like squamous cell carcinoma.
Non-small cell lung cancer types:
- Adenocarcinoma– This type of non-small cell lung cancer is often found in the outer areas of the lung. It starts in the cells that secrete mucus. It most often occurs in people who have a history of smoking.
- Squamous Cell Carcinoma– Squamous cells are flat cells that line the airways of the lungs and are usually found near the air tubes. Squamous cell carcinomas occur when these squamous cells begin to grow and divide uncontrollably. This cancer type is also most common in those with a history of smoking.
- Large Cell Carcinoma– Large cell carcinomas can appear in any part of the lung. Generally speaking, this is the fastest growing and spreading type of lung cancer. Large cell carcinoma does not refer to a specific cell type but rather any cell that is larger than usually expected.
To learn more about the different types of lung cancer, click here.
Lung Cancer Statistics
Lung cancer is the third most common type of cancer with over 235,000 new cases in 2022 alone. While being the third most common type of cancer, it is the most common cause of cancer-related death, responsible for approximately 25% of such deaths. In fact, the five-year survival rate for lung cancer is very low at approximately 26%. Fortunately, however, the number of lung cancer diagnoses has been consistently decreasing. This decrease can be attributed to a decrease in smoking, one of the major risk factors for lung cancer with smokers having a 15 to 30 times greater chance of getting and dying from this cancer. To learn more about the statistics and demographics related to lung cancer, click here.
ACS Lung Cancer Resources
ACS has a host of resources available to assist the fight against lung cancer. Here we will review some of the most notable resources.
- Lung cancer pathology report assistance– This resource helps break down the sometimes complicated language in the pathology report. A lung pathology report is a report that provides a diagnosis for the state of biopsied lung tissue. The American Cancer Society offers a pathology report breakdown available for both lung cancer in situ, meaning the cancerous cells are relegated to the top layers of the lung and have not grown into the deeper layers (this is often classified as pre-cancer), and lung cancer.
- Lung cancer quiz– One of the main tenets of advocacy is education. To educate patients, caregivers, and the public is empowering as it provides the information necessary for people to make smart choices. This quiz is designed to help inform people about lung cancer and reduce the spread of misinformation. It is a short 6-item quiz that can be monumental in the fight against lung cancer.
Click here to interact with more of the American Cancer Society’s lung cancer information and resources.
The American Cancer Society has many resources for you to get involved in fighting lung cancer. Most resources center around reducing the usage of tobacco and the practice of smoking as it is by far the leading risk factor for lung cancer.
You can get involved in the fight against lung cancer through assisting the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) in their campaign against tobacco. ACS CAN is the sister organization of the American Cancer Society and is actively involved in advocacy and lobbying. One piece of legislation they are currently pushing for is to make all workplaces, restaurants, bars, and casinos smoke-free to reduce the incidence of second hand smoke and curb the practice of smoking. Currently, only 60% of people in the United States are protected by smoke free laws. You can help get this legislation passed by signing the petition through simply filling out your name and contact information. Additionally, you can spread the word about this petition to your friends and family, increasing the number of signees. The link to sign the petition to make America smoke-free is here.
While it may seem like a daunting task, you can help someone quit smoking. The American Cancer Society provides a list of things to do and things not to do when trying to help someone quit. There is also a list of things to do and things not to do in specific situations like if the person who’s quitting “slips” or relapses. By reading the list found here, you can stop someone from smoking, effectively saving their life. As cheesy as it may be, remember Dean Cain’s quote Real heroes don’t wear capes.