Today is World Lung Cancer Day, when groups and organisations come together to celebrate, commemorate and support all those affected by lung cancer. In its 7th year, it is a day dedicated to promoting awareness of lung cancer and all of its causes.
Lung cancer is often thought of as the smoking disease, but not all cases of lung cancer are attributed to smoking. Other risk factors such as genetics, a history of cancer and the environment (eg: radon, asbestos, and uranium) can also contribute to it.
It remains one of the most common cancers worldwide, claiming more lives yearly than breast, colon and prostate cancers combined. More people die from lung cancer in Ireland than from any other type of cancer, accounting for 1800 deaths a year.
The National Cancer Strategy, published more than a year ago, set out clear objectives in terms of improving cancer incidence and survival rates in Ireland, with a specific call out to reduce inequalities in five-year survival rates for lung cancer by 2026.
Commenting Liz Yeates, CEO of the Marie Keating Foundation says “If we are to meet these targets, all stakeholders need to work together to ensure early and consistent diagnosis as well as better treatment for lung cancer patients in Ireland. It is disappointing that little progress seems to have been made in this regard more than a year since the launch of the strategy. The Marie Keating Foundation continues to play its part in highlighting the importance of early detection and diagnosis, which is particularly important for lung cancer patients, and is urging the government to allocate the necessary resources to ensure the recommendations of the Cancer Strategy are implemented more expeditiously.”
This year in November, to mark Lung Cancer Awareness Month, the Foundation will be building on last year’s campaign asking people to “Listen to Your Lungs” and to be aware of the crucial early signs of lung cancer. Our campaign for this year will focus not only on symptom awareness but also on challenging some of the stigmas associated with lung cancer.
The Listen To Your Lung Campaign encouraged people to visit their Doctor if they have been suffering from a cough for three or more weeks, especially if this is combined with other symptoms such as breathlessness, fatigue or ongoing chest infections.
Tony Walsh was diagnosed with Lung Cancer in December, 2014, after he presented to his Doctor with a persistent cough and chest infection. Tony Walsh, Lung Cancer survivor, said: “I am one of the lucky ones, I have come out the other side. I’ve had intensive treatment and my right lung was removed. It has been a long road to recovery and it could have been a very different story. I know how scary it is going to Doctor with these concerns, especially if you are a smoker. You never want to hear those words. But early detection is crucial and it could save your life. My lung cancer was caught early because I listened to my lungs.”
For more information on sign and symptoms visit www.mariekeating.ie/cancer-information/lung-cancer/