Friday, January 20, 2006

Lung Cancer Alliance Report Card on Lung Cancer Gives Many Failing Grades

A report card on lung cancer issued yesterday by the Lung Cancer Alliance gave failing grades for failure to make progress in eradicating the disease in several areas including:
  • number of deaths (163,510 in 2005);
  • five-year survival rate (only 15%);
  • proportion of late-stage diagnoses (70%);
  • overall federal commitment; and
  • number of newly-addicted youth smokers (2000 a day).
According to the press release: "“Lung cancer is the most lethal of all major cancers. This Report Card on Lung Cancer will put public health leaders and the American public on notice that it is time to change this. The Report Card on Lung Cancer will evaluate progress utilizing key benchmarks annually in the battle to eradicate this disease.

'Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in men and women,' said Paul A. Bunn, Jr., MD, Professor of Medicine and Director of the University of the Colorado Cancer Center (UCCC); former President of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO); Member, Board of Directors, The Lung Cancer Alliance. 'We have made insufficient progress in this dreaded disease in part due to a lack of resources. Hopefully, it will encourage our public health leaders to come together to develop an overall plan with a sense of urgency to increase lung cancer'’s survivorship.'"”

The Rest of the Story

While I have been critical in the past of a number of actions the Lung Cancer Alliance has taken (mainly related to what I felt was an attempt to downplay the significance of smoking in addressing the lung cancer epidemic), I have nothing but praise for the Alliance's Report Card on Lung Cancer.

I think the Report Card presents a focused, yet balanced view of the dismal efforts we have made to try to both prevent and better treat this devastating disease.

And I want to highlight the fact that the Lung Cancer Alliance has specifically included a focus on prevention of smoking, providing evidence that it really is concerned about smoking as an important aspect of the lung cancer problem.

The Lung Cancer Alliance is to be congratulated for providing this poignant reminder that we can sit idly back while more than 160,000 Americans die each year from a disease that could largely be prevented, and where not prevented, should be able to be either diagnosed earlier or treated more effectively.

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