Lung Cancer Awareness Month and how to get involved
Lung Cancer Awareness Graphic by Emma Iverson.

Lung Cancer Awareness Month and how to get involved

As November marks Lung Cancer Awareness Month, it is essential for the New College community to contemplate the crucial facets of this lethal disease and the profound impact it has on survivors, fighters and healthcare professionals. Lung cancer stands as the predominant cause of cancer-related mortality across the globe, affecting individuals due to factors such as genetics, smoking and environmental or occupational exposure. Here, the Catalyst delves into the foundational knowledge surrounding lung cancer, emphasizes the significance of early screening and discusses avenues for active participation in the community to promote Lung Cancer Awareness Month.

LUNGevity is a nationwide, lung cancer focused nonprofit. Bellinda Wenger, Chief Marketing Officer of LUNGevity told a Catalyst reporter, “Awareness Month, people are aware of disease, but we want people to understand that Lung Cancer has changed and it is a different disease for many people, with it being a stigmatized disease-association with smoking, awareness month allows the community to know  that you don’t have to have a past of smoking to have lung cancer, you just have to have lungs to have lung cancer.”

Lung Cancer Insights

Lung cancer, a formidable challenge within the field of oncology, possesses a complex and far-reaching history. This disease, characterized by the uncontrolled proliferation of malignant cells in lung tissue, has been a persistent global health concern. Its close association with tobacco smoking is undeniable, as the majority of cases can be directly attributed to this harmful habit. However, over the years, extensive research has unveiled a diverse range of risk factors, including exposure to environmental dangers, such as radon gas and occupational carcinogens. Furthermore, genetics can influence an individual’s susceptibility to lung cancer, especially when there is a family history of the disease. As a consequence of these myriad factors, lung cancer has emerged as a significant public health challenge, necessitating focused attention, continued research and advocacy efforts to enhance prevention, early detection and treatment outcomes. Lung Cancer Awareness Month serves as a poignant reminder of the ongoing battle against this formidable adversary and the imperative for persistent endeavors to confront it.

Annually, approximately 136,000 individuals succumb to lung cancer, with more than  197,000 receiving a diagnosis. These sobering statistics underscore the significant risk associated with this disease, making it crucial for individuals to seek early screening, as many forms of lung cancer have treatment options but lack definitive cures.

Screenings Save Lives

In the field of oncology, screening plays a pivotal role by providing crucial information, particularly when individuals are asymptomatic. These screenings are essential, as they can effectively facilitate early intervention in the treatment process. Currently, a vital screening method known as low-dose CT (LDCT) scan is available, particularly relevant for individuals with a history of smoking or current smokers who are at a high risk for developing cancer.

Debra Violette Vice President and CEO of Free ME from Lung Cancer told a Catalyst reporter, “The LDCT scan is a valuable resource, yet its full potential is hindered by the fact that only 5% of individuals meet the eligibility criteria. Among those who meet the criteria, there is a notable reluctance to undergo the scan, those who do undergo the scan often show no signs of lLung cancer. To be eligible, individuals must be between 50 and 77 years old, asymptomatic, and have a 20-pack year smoking history” 

The American Cancer Society emphasizes the significance of LDCT scans on its official website, stating, “Research has demonstrated that, unlike traditional chest x-rays, annual LDCT scans for individuals at an elevated risk of lung cancer can be life-saving. For such individuals, undergoing LDCT scans on an annual basis, even before symptoms manifest, significantly reduces the risk of mortality from lung cancer.”

Additionally, the Western Washington Medical Group states, “Lung cancer screening extends life by detecting cancer early, which can be cured by means of surgery, radiation, and/or chemotherapy.”

In the area, there are several healthcare facilities where one can undergo screenings,  Tincluding Sarasota Memorial Hospital, Blake Hospital, Moffitt Cancer Center and Tampa General Hospital. These institutions provide access to important screening services for individuals seeking preventive healthcare or early detection. 

Maya Feldman, daughter of a lung cancer patient and advocate, told the Catalyst, “Knowing that I am able to be screened earlier due to lung cancer being inherited in my family allows me to feel somewhat safer and I am grateful for that opportunity. However, the fear will always be there because growing up my connection to this disease always ended with family deaths, but I feel safer now that this is not always the case.”

Volunteer Opportunities and Events

Regardless of the month, active community involvement holds significant importance. November, in particular, presents an ideal time for engagement, whether someone has  a specialized interest or is eager to explore new horizons. There are numerous opportunities for involvement in the field of oncology, specifically in the context of lung cancer.   These opportunities encompass both volunteering and participating in events, such as walks. 

“Social media holds significant potential for making a valuable impact. It serves as an excellent platform for volunteering and raising awareness, especially through activities like reposting content from other organizations. The interconnected nature of social media allows for the rapid dissemination of information,”  Wenger said.

Feldman also stated, “Participating in community events through volunteering not only fosters a strong sense of connection to my community but also brings me joy as I contribute to raising funds and spreading awareness for those impacted by the disease.”

The Catalyst compiled a list of opportunities and events accessible locally to the public: 

Miles for Moffitt 

In the Tampa area, Moffitt hosts an annual event on Nov. 18 that unites the community to support cancer prevention and raise awareness. This event involves a walk/run, and participants can choose between an in-person event in Tampa or a virtual option. There are several choices available, including a 1K fun run/walk, a 5K, a 10K and a 10K wheelchair race.

American Cancer Society

The American Cancer Society provides a wide array of volunteer opportunities tailored to individual preferences and interests. These opportunities encompass roles in patient support, participation in community events, and even organizing fundraising initiatives. Many of these volunteer positions come with the added benefit of free training. To explore a list of available volunteer opportunities, click here.

American Lung Association

Not certain about the specific volunteering opportunity that interests you? The American Lung Association provides an excellent platform for exploring various volunteering niches that might align with one’s preferences. Whatever skills or interests one may possess, there’s a good chance that the American Lung Association has a volunteering opportunity tailored for you. Here’s a brief list of some available options.

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