On World Lung Cancer Day, we remember a few sobering statistics.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, lung cancer is the third most common cancer in the United States. More people, men and women alike, die from lung cancer than from any kind of cancer.
In addition, the American Cancer Society estimates over 200,000 new cases of lung cancer, and over 120,000 lung cancer deaths this year. ACS also notes that 1 in 5 of all cancer deaths are caused by lung cancer.
And, according to the World Health Organization, lung cancer kills more people than colon, breast, and liver cancers combined.
World Lung Cancer Day was first observed in 2012 and continues to take place every year on August 1. On this day, patients, families, doctors, researchers, and advocates raise awareness about lung cancer. People and organizations share information and stories about lung cancer’s causes, the importance of screenings, treatments, patient advocacy, research, and survival. This year, the day is highlighting research breakthroughs that make an impact on patients’ care.
Battling an Ongoing Cause of Lung Cancer
While we often think of smoking as linked to lung cancer, one of the deadliest causes of lung cancer is exposure to asbestos. Asbestos lung cancer is an especially aggressive form of cancer that typically develop years after asbestos exposure.
Asbestos lung cancer appears as tumors inside the lung tissue, which restrict the flow of oxygen into the bloodstream. It can take years, sometimes decades from first exposure to asbestos before symptoms of cancer occur, and these symptoms can be mistaken for other common ailments. Individuals may initially experience shortness of breath, chest or lower back pain, chronic coughing, difficulty swallowing, and fluid around the lungs.
Unfortunately, there are few treatment options for these types of cancers, and most people diagnosed with mesothelioma and asbestos lung cancer do not survive.
How Does Asbestos Cause Lung Cancer?
Between the 1950s and the 1980s, nearly every home, school, and workplace across every state contained some sort of asbestos material. Because asbestos fibers are flexible, lightweight, strong, and naturally heat resistant, it was commonly used as insulation or to strengthen other materials.
When products made with asbestos are disturbed, whether from installation, cleaning, repair, or removal, millions of undetectable asbestos fibers can be released into the air. This happened frequently when pipes were cut and fitted, or simply from the everyday use of heat shielding gloves or aprons. The tiny, airborne asbestos fibers can then be inhaled or swallowed. Once lodged inside the lungs, soft tissues, or other organs, asbestos causes lasting and often fatal damage.
From homes, workplaces, and schools, in addition to the asbestos contained inside thousands of products sold in the U.S., many people have been and continue to be exposed to asbestos. In the U.S. alone, asbestos causes over 39,000 deaths each year. People have not only suffered from illnesses but also loss of income and devastating medical costs.
At highest risk for first-hand asbestos exposure are those who wore, worked directly with, or alongside asbestos-containing materials; however, we know today that there is no safe amount of asbestos exposure. Even the smallest amount of exposure increases the chances of developing asbestos-related diseases.
How You Can Join World Lung Cancer Day
Today’s calendar of events from the Lung Cancer Foundation of America is action-packed, and includes speakers from across the country, sharing their experiences as patients, researchers, caregivers, and other allies. Many of the sessions are concurrent, allowing you to choose the one that resonates with you most. You can join the conversations live on Facebook.
In addition, you can show your support today by:
- Sharing information about lung cancer screening and encouraging your loved ones to get screened.
- Sharing the common symptoms of lung cancer, which include coughing that won’t go away, wheezing, coughing up blood, shortness of breath, fatigue, hoarseness, and weight loss.
- Donating your time or resources to a lung cancer charity.
- Volunteering at a local hospital or organization that helps those affected by lung cancer.
SWMW’s Fight for Lung Cancer Patients
Every day, our clients display the kind of courage and resilience that gives us deep hope. Lung cancer is a frightening diagnosis, especially when it’s discovered that the cause could have been prevented with better worker protections in place. We continue to advocate for cancer survivors, their families, and their circles of care by raising awareness of their struggles, fighting for accountability, and advocating for their care and compensation.
To learn more about our team, our services, and how we can serve you or your loved one affected by asbestos exposure, contact our team today.