Awareness of lung cancer must be increased


November 29, 2018

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  • Lung cancer is the biggest cancer killer in Ireland, however almost 60% of people are unaware of this, new research has found.

    Around 2,600 people are newly diagnosed with lung cancer every year in Ireland and more men and women die from this disease than from any other types of cancer. In fact, it kills more people than colorectal (bowel) cancer and breast cancer combined.

    However, new research carried out on behalf of the Marie Keating Foundation found that 59% of people were unable to identify the disease as Ireland's biggest cancer killer.

    Over 1,000 adults were questioned in early November about this and among them, just 9% correctly identified lung cancer as the biggest cancer killer of women. Almost half (47%) thought that breast cancer was the biggest cancer killer of women, while 37% thought cervical cancer was.

    Just 1% of young adults, aged 18-24, correctly identified lung cancer as the biggest cancer killer of women.

    "A key focus was put on lung cancer in the National Cancer Strategy 2017 to 2026, with an aim of increasing symptom awareness to promote early detection. The five-year survival rate for lung cancer is just 18%, compared to 92% for prostate cancer and 83% for breast cancer. Unfortunately, not a lot has been achieved since the National Cancer Strategy was published in relation to this objective," commented Liz Yeates, CEO of the Marie Keating Foundation.

    She said that some of the research findings were shocking, such as 27% of people believing that lung cancer patients who never smoked should get priority over those that did/do.

    "No one deserves to get cancer and all cancer patients deserve our support and equal access to treatment. We hope that by increasing awareness of the disease, we can challenge these attitudes and increase the number of people presenting to their GP at an earlier stage,' Ms Yeates added.

    She made her comments at an event in Dublin to mark Lung Cancer Awareness Month 2018, which ran throughout November. The event, ‘Living with lung cancer in Ireland - Are all cancers treated equally?' was hosted by the Marie Keating Foundation and MSD.

    Also speaking at the event, Dr Anne-Marie Baird of Lung Cancer Europe, said that these research findings show ‘the continued lack of awareness around lung cancer both in terms of incidence and mortality'.

    "The numbers are particularly striking in the 18-24 age group, as just 1% correctly identify lung cancer as the single biggest killer of women in Ireland. We need to change the conversation around this disease and dramatically increase the profile of lung cancer in this country.

    "In parallel we must tackle the stigma and ‘blame game' mentality associated with it. By doing this as a community, we will ensure that people affected by lung cancer have improved outcomes through equal and timely access to innovative diagnostics, treatment and care," she insisted.

    For more information on lung cancer, click here


    © Medmedia Publications/ 2018