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Respiratory Health Associations Encourage Global Awareness and Early Screening for World Lung Cancer Day

New York - In support of World Lung Cancer Day on Aug. 1, the Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS), of which the American Thoracic Society is a founding member, stresses the importance of symptom awareness and early screening to diagnose and treat lung cancer.

While lung cancer is not the most prevalent cancer (second to breast cancer), it is the most common cause of cancer death. With more than 2.2 million new cases of lung cancer in 2020 and 1.80 million deaths, globally, lung cancer is responsible for 1 in 4 cancer deaths. According to the World Health Organization, lung cancer kills more people yearly than breast, colon and prostate cancers combined.

“World Lung Cancer Day is an opportunity for the members of the Forum of International Respiratory Societies to collectively bring increased symptom awareness to not only lung cancer, but to lung health in general,” says ATS President Gregory Downey, MD, ATSF. “Knowing the signs of lung disease – lung cancer, COPD, bronchiectasis, etc. – will help lead to proactive health care visits, earlier testing, more timely diagnoses and overall reduced global mortality.”

To recognize lung cancer earlier, it is crucial to be aware of the symptoms. The most common symptoms of lung cancer are:

  • A cough that does not go away or gets worse
  • Coughing up blood or rust-colored sputum (spit or phlegm)
  • Chest pain that is often worse with deep breathing, coughing, or laughing
  • Hoarseness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feeling tired or weak
  • Recurring infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia
  • New onset of wheezing

In addition to knowing the signs of lung cancer, access to screening options is vital for reducing lung cancer deaths through early detection and treatment.
“Early detection of lung cancer can save lives by expanding treatment options and slowing the spread,” said Dr. Downey. “It is our hope that increasing awareness of the symptoms will help people know to seek out medical care, so we can catch this disease as early as possible.”

To identify and diagnose lung cancer in its earlier stages, it is recommended to seek lung cancer screening with a low-dose tomography (also known as low-dose CT or LDCT). If the individual is a smoker or a former smoker, lung cancer screening is recommended even if they are not experiencing any signs or symptoms.


About the Forum of International Respiratory Societies
The Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS) is an organisation comprised of the world's leading international respiratory societies working together to improve lung health globally. The goal of FIRS is to unify and enhance efforts to improve lung health through the combined work of its more than 70,000 members globally.

FIRS comprises the American College of Chest Physicians (CHEST), American Thoracic Society (ATS), the Asian Pacific Society of Respirology (APSR), Asociación Latino Americana De Tórax (ALAT), European Respiratory Society (ERS), International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Diseases (The Union), Pan African Thoracic Society (PATS), the Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA), and the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD).