From Our 2010 Archives

Americans Lack Basic Facts on Lung Cancer

Survey Shows Poor Awareness of a Disease That Kills Tens of Thousands a Year

By Denise Mann
WebMD Health News

Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

Lack of Knowledge on Lung Cancer's Causes

"If we're going to catch it early, treat it and give people the best chance for survival, they need to know about lung cancer and its symptoms, take measures to reduce their risk and talk with their doctor about their health history," says Regina Vidaver, PhD, the executive director of the National Lung Cancer Partnership, in a news release.

There was also a lack of awareness of lung cancer causes. For example, 88% of individuals did not know that radon -- a colorless, odorless gas -- is the No. 2 cause of lung cancer. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 20,000 lung cancer deaths each year are related to radon exposure in the home.

Smoking cigarettes is the leading cause of lung cancer, but the message that lung cancer also strikes nonsmokers seems to be getting out, the survey showed. Fully 98% of people said they knew lung cancer also occurs in nonsmokers.

"This survey holds both good and bad news about the current state of lung cancer awareness in the United States," says Vidaver. "Awareness can help decrease cancer death rates, as recent studies have shown, so it's never been more important for Americans to understand that lung cancer is the country's number one cancer killer."

The National Lung Cancer Partnership is a nonprofit group that aims to raise awareness about lung cancer and raise money for lung cancer research.

SOURCES: News release, National Lung Cancer Partnership.National Cancer Institute web site: "Lung cancer."EPA web site: "Radon."

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