With large commitments over the years for research funding and screening, the 5-year survival rates for breast cancer have risen to 88%, for prostate cancer to 99%, and for colon cancer to 65%. The least funded of all the major cancers, lung cancer's 5-year survival rate has never gone above 15%, leaving few survivors to advocate for more funding for research and early detection.
Patients are often stigmatized and blamed for their disease whether they smoked or not, Ms. Fenton-Ambrose pointed out, even though over 50% of new cases are in former smokers and another 15% in people who never smoked. She also noted that lung cancer is "the only major cancer for which screening is not encouraged, even among those at high-risk for the disease."
"These resolutions passed by the House and Senate will help break through decades of neglect and blame and lead to fundamental policy changes in the way we address and fund lung cancer research and early detection," she stated.
Earlier in the month, for the third year in a row, the federal government received failing grades in LCA's 2007 Annual Report Card, issued to mark the start of Lung Cancer Awareness Month. The 2007 Report Card on Lung Cancer grades seven categories to evaluate progress each year on benchmarks that must be met in order to eradicate this disease.
The report is widely distributed among public policy leaders, medical professionals, and health-care associations working to improve outcomes for lung cancer. Only slight improvements have been observed since its first release in 2005.
They include increases in the number of lung cancer clinical trials, Congressional resolutions making lung cancer a national priority, federal legislation authorizing funding for chemoprevention and pilot programs to screen those at high risk for lung cancer, and several state legislative initiatives to fund lung cancer research.
However, youth continue to be addicted to cigarettes at alarming rates, overall levels of research funding remain stagnant, and screening for lung cancer among a high-risk population is still not endorsed despite new data showing benefits of early detection, the LCA noted when this year's report was released.
"Obviously," she continued, "these low grades show we still have a long way to go to reverse decades of stigma and neglect. LCA will continue its work to improve outcomes for all those affected by lung cancer."