How to Double Lung Cancer Survival and You Can Help
Current lung cancer survival rates are not encouraging, but that doesn’t mean that can’t change. In fact, the National Lung Cancer Partnership wants to double lung cancer survival by 2022, and you can help make it happen.
What do you know about lung cancer?
Lung cancer is the number one cause of cancer deaths in the United States. The National Cancer Institute reports there will be an estimated 228,190 new cases of lung cancer diagnosed in the US in 2013, and about 159,480 people will die of the disease.
The current five-year survival for lung cancer is 16 percent, which means only one in eight people diagnosed with the disease can expect to survive five years. Lung cancer survival is low mainly because the disease usually is not diagnosed until it is in an advanced stage, which makes treatment less effective and the options limited.
Another reason is that many people still smoke. The main cause of lung cancer is smoking, and an estimated 45.3 million people (19.3% of all adults) in the United States smoke cigarettes. However, nonsmokers can also get lung cancer and make up about 10 percent of all lung cancer cases.
How to change lung cancer survival
The National Lung Cancer Partnership (NLCP) has issued a challenge to double the lung cancer survival rate by 2022. According to Joan Schiller, MD, president of the NLCP and chief of hematology/oncology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, “At the heart of this new vision is a promise that everyone diagnosed with lung cancer will have a greater chance of survival than ever before.”
How can NLCP and you help reach that goal? Here are the four steps set forth by the NLCP, and there are ways you can participate in every one of them.
Fund research. The NLCP plans to work with organizations and individuals to help them take active steps to raise funds for lung cancer research. One way you can join in is to participate in any of the Free to Breathe events which are sponsored by NLCP.
These events, which include activities such as runs, walks, and yogathons, bring together people who want to raise awareness about lung cancer and help fund research. You can visit the Free to Breathe website to find events in your area and learn more about how to participate.
Educate patients about treatment options. People with lung cancer need to have better access to and an understanding of treatment options. The NLCP wants to increase the number of patients it reaches each year with informational campaigns from about 16,000 to 200,000.
You can help by sharing patient handbooks, pamphlets, and videos on lung cancer and treatment options with people you know, especially anyone who has lung cancer or who may be at risk for the disease. Contact the NLCP or the American Lung Association for information.
Increase participation in clinical trials. The NLCP wants to more than double the number of lung cancer patients who participate in clinical trials. Currently less than 2 percent of eligible patients enter such trials, and the goal is 5 percent.
If you or a loved one has lung cancer, be sure to talk to your healthcare provider about the possibility of participating in a clinical trial. You also can visit the government clinical trial website to see the trials that are planned and recruiting.
Promote molecular tumor testing. Molecular tumor testing evaluates the DNA and other traits of lung cancer tumors, which allows physicians to determine the most effective treatment options. Currently only two lung cancer genetic targets are being treated with approved therapies. The NLCP wants to increase that number to at least 10 by 2022.
Unless you are a researcher or scientist working on this project, you probably can’t have a direct impact on this goal. However, helping raise funds for research and awareness of lung cancer treatment options can help further this cause.
Regina Vidaver, PhD, executive director of NLCP, noted that “it takes courage to set this unquestionably ambitious target. But with the help of supporters across the country, we’re determined to reach it.” You can help double lung cancer survival by participating in NLCP events and educational efforts.