2021 Press Releases

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World's Respiratory Societies Support Community Action and Education for Lung Cancer Awareness Day

Aug. 1, 2021 – 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 community action and early screening to prevent and treat lung cancer.

Responsible for 25 percent of all cancer deaths, lung cancer remains a topic for concern. According to the World Health Organization, each year, more people die of lung cancer than of colon, breast, and liver cancers combined. Worldwide, in 2020, there were 2.21 million new cases of lung cancer and 1.80 million deaths. Despite these alarming statistics, the rate of lung cancer is dropping because of tobacco cessation efforts.

“World Lung Cancer Day is an excellent opportunity to raise awareness for people affected by lung cancer and highlight effective ways for its prevention, the most important being tobacco cessation,” said ATS President Lynn Schnapp, MD, ATSF. “Eliminating tobacco use is the number one way to reduce lung cancer cases. Communities  play an important role in lung cancer prevention through education around preventable risk factors for lung cancer and stressing the importance of lung cancer screening.”

To reduce the prevalence of lung cancer, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends community action and education including:

  • Public education around lung cancer risk factors
  • Reducing minors’ access to tobacco products and e-cigarettes
  • Helping people quit using tobacco products
  • Helping people avoid second hand smoke
  • Reducing exposure to radon
  • Encouraging people to be screened for lung cancer as recommended

In addition to tobacco cessation, access to screening and early detection is vital for reducing lung cancer deaths through early detection and treatment. If lung cancer is found at an early stage, when it is small and before it has spread, it is more likely to be successfully treated.

Lung cancer screening with a low-dose tomography (also known as low-dose CT or LDCT) scan is recommended for at risk people to detect the earliest stages of lung cancer before symptoms occur. The American Cancer Society recommends that all current or former smokers and those over the age of 55 consider seeking a low-dose CT scan screening to potentially detect lung cancer in its earliest stages.

When they present, lung cancer symptoms include change in mucus, chest or back pain, coughing up blood and difficulty swallowing. Timely and equitable access to health care for assessment and treatment is vital.