Lung Cancer Awareness Month More Important Than Ever


November is, among other things, Lung Cancer Awareness Month. While for many, this month is a random association – just as remarkable as Arbor Day – for the 235,760 people newly diagnosed, 131,880 who died in 2021, countless more who have been living with lung cancer for years. years and their loved ones, this month is a mix between the education necessary for others and a stark reminder of their own reality. Especially in 2021, on the eve of a pulmonary virus pandemic and a new wave of nicotine consumption with vaping, education on lung cancer should be a compulsory learning.

According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), “Lung cancer is by far the leading cause of cancer death in both men and women, accounting for nearly 25% of all cancer deaths.” More people die from lung cancer each year than from breast, colon and prostate cancer combined. While the ACS also reports that the majority of lung cancer diagnoses occur around age 70, as the daughter of a woman diagnosed at age 53, lung cancer can affect n ‘anyone.

Now, five years after her initial diagnosis, my mother is only alive today due to my father’s constant self-advocacy, overtime to keep the financial resources dedicated to medical expenses while keeping our family fed and housed and health insurance that was unrelated to his job. Without each of these factors, my family would likely have drowned in medical bills and attended his funeral after I graduated from high school.

The only thing unique about my family’s situation is that all of these factors have come together to be able to fight this disease to this day. We’re still able to pay for her CT scan next week and she was able to convince her doctor to test more frequently for the growth before it spreads further. The number of personal resources required to stay alive as a lung cancer patient in the United States is not sustainable for the average American family with a median annual income of $ 67,521 in 2020. As of ‘A study evaluating patients diagnosed between 1992 and 2003, they found monthly treatment costs for the average patient “in the first 6 months ranged from $ 2,687 (no active treatment) to $ 9,360 (chemoradiation); costs varied according to stage at diagnosis and histologic type. ” This price has only increased over the past two decades.

To illustrate what a huge part of the American economy occupies, cancer, according to ACS Cancer Action Network, “approximately $ 183 billion was spent in the United States on cancer health care in 2015, and this amount is expected to reach $ 246 billion by 2030. —an increase of 34%. They also note that “these high costs are paid for by people with cancer and their families, employers, insurance companies, and taxpayer-funded public programs like Medicare and Medicaid.”

When it comes to diagnosing and treating women – and women of color, in particular – if a self-identifying patient doesn’t defend herself, push her for testing when she knows she has it. needs and be persistent with her doctor when she rejects her patient’s request. needs, then the probability of obtaining the necessary treatment is significantly reduced. If my mom hadn’t insisted on having tests when her doctor told her her pain was insignificant, she wouldn’t be alive today. One article writes that “women are less likely than men to receive more advanced diagnostic and therapeutic interventions.” The National Academy of Medicine reported that “racial and ethnic minorities receive poorer quality health care than whites, even when insurance status, income, age and severity of conditions are comparable.” . This reality can prove fatal, especially when it comes to a disease like lung cancer with such a low survival rate, and especially when it is discovered late, which is more likely for women who do not receive the necessary tests initially.

To many students, the idea of ​​cancer may seem like a long way off. However, including people who smoke and those who don’t, 1 in 16 people will develop lung cancer in their lifetime. That being said, the risks are also greater based on racial lines. Black men are 15% more likely to develop lung cancer than white men, and black women are 14% less likely than white women. develop lung cancer. It’s you, your friends, your older brother, your mother, your grandfather.

While almost 9 in 10 lung cancer deaths are caused by smoking or secondary exposure, my mother is one of many people who make up 1 in 10. Beyond cigarettes, who have decades of life. With studies proving their direct link to lung cancer, scientists are quickly collecting data showing that vaping definitely harms a person’s lungs.

It’s a frightening development how many college students – friends, roommates, ourselves – are vaping on a regular basis. More education is needed on what leads to lung cancer and the importance of getting tested, especially if there is a family history of cancer. More education is needed on how to manage even a health system that is so broken. This is necessary so that the # 1 deadliest cancer can be detected before it injures more families.

This is the opinion of Kacie thielmann, a double major in junior journalism and political science from San Jose, California. Tweet comments @LALoyolan or by email to [email protected].

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