Editorial: Awareness, support important for all cancers

Anne Buie

The following reflects the views of the majority of The Appalachian’s editorial board.

It’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and we would first like to applaud breast cancer patients, survivors and fighters.

Your tremendous voice is winning the battle against the second deadliest – and the most common – cancer in women.

Survival rates for victims are up to 90 percent today, compared to 63 percent in the 1960s, as reported by The American Cancer Society.

This is a monumental victory.

But as we celebrate the lives saved as a result of breast cancer research and support, we also wish to acknowledge a cancer that we believe stands in the shadow of the highly publicized breast cancer awareness campaign.

Pink – the trademark color of breast cancer awareness – appears more than ever in October.

Energizer offers limited edition pink batteries. Old Navy donates 5 percent of sales from “iPromise” merchandise to Susan G. Komen. General Mills sells products with pink lids worth 10 cents to the cause if returned to the company.

On Saturday, our football team sported pink sweatbands, socks and towels, a standard set by players in the National Football League.

But will they wear white next month for another, deadlier cancer?

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month, and according to the ACS, lung and bronchus cancer will kill more than four times as many people as breast cancer in 2012 – both men and women.

Where’s their race for the cure?

Lung cancer’s survival rate a year after onset has barely increased from 35 percent in the 1970s to 43 percent today, not to mention the 15 percent survival rate after five years.

Breast cancer has proven that publicity, funding and support can turn an uncertain prognosis into a promising one.

Unfortunately, awareness for lung cancer is quiet.

This has to do with an inherent blame placed on patients, since 80 percent of the 160,000 lung cancer deaths in America are tobacco-related, according to the ACS.

In a poll conducted by US News, 59 percent of 1,500 Americans surveyed said they believe lung cancer victims are responsible for their diagnosis.

Laurie Fenton Ambrose, president and CEO of Lung Cancer Alliance, told US News that “…[this] stigma has been used to justify underfunding, not only of research but also of programs for early detection and treatment.”

America is tackling lung cancer at its source with a forceful anti-smoking movement. But after advertising prevention, we fail to address or remedy the actual issue.

The reality of lung cancer is that it is cancer.

It shouldn’t be disregarded because 128,000 people did not heed the Surgeon General’s warning.

Regardless of lung cancer’s cause, regardless of who is affected, it’s killing people. And we believe that justifies the same publicity, funding and support that breast cancer receives.