Awareness days provide an important and easily accessible way to raise the profile and understanding of a particular topic. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of events which take place at set times throughout the year to raise awareness, with many related to healthcare.
There is also no doubt that the increase in online connectivity and use of social media has greatly enhanced the reach and influence of these informative awareness dates.
Most medical conditions have their own dedicated awareness day, week or month and some have more than one.
Here we take a closer look at World Lung Cancer Day and what it aims to achieve each year.
WHEN IS WORLD LUNG CANCER DAY?
World Lung Cancer Day takes place on the 1st of August each year and, while it normally has a general role in raising awareness, there is usually a different theme each year.
This isn’t the only event designed to put lung cancer in the spotlight each year. November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month, where a whole host of events are held across the globe to increase general understanding of lung cancer and raise funds for continuous research into the condition.
WHAT IS THE AIM OF WORLD LUNG CANCER DAY?
The aim of creating greater lung cancer awareness is not only to ensure that people get themselves checked out as early as possible, but to also highlight improvements in lung cancer treatment and research. It also aims to provide information related to what support is available, for those diagnosed with the condition.
Activities that take place on World Lung Cancer Day range from putting up posters to raising money for support services and research in local areas.
People may want to organize an awareness day event at their place of work or simply support the initiative by engaging online on social media. It’s also a great time for individuals to share their personal stories.
WHAT IS LUNG CANCER?
Lung cancer is the leading cause of death from cancer in the world today and it is still difficult to diagnose in its early stages. That’s why initiatives such as World Lung Cancer Day are very important. Abnormal cells develop in one or both lungs and these then form tumours which impact the normal functioning of the organ.
There are two types of primary lung cancer:
Small cell lung cancer: This normally starts in the bronchi but can spread quickly and aggressively to other parts of the body. It accounts for a fifth of diagnosed lung cancers.
Non-small cell lung cancer: This is the most common form and usually develops slowly. Because it elicits few or no symptoms in the early stages it can be difficult to diagnose.
Symptoms to look out for include a persistent cough, breathlessness and tiredness and aches or pain when coughing. Unfortunately, these symptoms often only become noticeable once the disease is more advanced.
Survival rates vary considerably depending on the type of cancer and how advanced it is. Early diagnosis, as with most other cancers, has a significant impact on the patient’s prognosis.
LUNG CANCER FACTS AND FIGURES
According to the World Health Organization, in 2018, there were more than 2 million new cases of lung cancer across the globe and 1.76 million deaths.
Around 80% of deaths from lung cancer are thought to be smoking-related. Incidence of the disease has come down in recent years because fewer people are smoking.
The majority of people diagnosed with lung cancer are older, above the age of 65. For men, the risk of developing lung cancer is about 1 in 15, for women, it is 1 in 17.
If the cancer is detected when the disease is still localized in the lungs, the 5-year survival rate is 56%. If cancer has spread to other organs in the body, the five-year survival rate is only 5%.
In the US, only 16% of cases are diagnosed early and over 50% of people with lung cancer die within a year of their diagnosis.
Men who smoke are 23 times more likely to develop lung cancer than those who have never smoked. Women are 13 times more likely.
Non-smokers who are regularly subjected to second-hand smoke at work or in the home, have up to a 30% greater chance of developing lung cancer.
Exposure to environmental toxins such as asbestos means you are five times more likely to develop lung cancer. If you smoke and are exposed to asbestos this increases your risk by as much as 50 times.
GENERATING LUNG CANCER AWARENESS
Lung cancer continues to be one of the most destructive diseases in the world today. Events like Lung Cancer Awareness Day not only give people important information about what symptoms to look out for, but they also highlight the advances made in research and the improvements made in terms of diagnosis and treatment options.