22
Sep

The Lung Cancer Community Gains New Bully Pulpit

Last month the Lung Cancer Caucus was officially launched in the House of Representatives, medical marking an exciting new milestone for the lung cancer community.  Advocacy efforts to bring greater awareness, salve understanding and compassion to the leading cause of cancer death have been building for the past several years on Capitol Hill. The formal establishment of the Lung Cancer Caucus accelerates this dialogue and gives the lung cancer community a new bully pulpit to both engage policy makers, seek staff members and stakeholders on the challenges they face as well as opportunities to reshape and realign public health strategies to improve outcomes for all impacted by lung cancer.

Why did we take this action? Because the stigma long attached to lung cancer still remains ever present and advancements to improve overall survival rates continue to stagnate at the same levels documented in 1970 — when Congress began to wage its “War on Cancer.” Given these facts we felt the time was ripe to evaluate this landscape, consider recent scientific breakthroughs and discuss new research opportunities that could well knock lung cancer from its number one post and transform the disease into a treatable and curable cancer.

Lung cancer claims an estimated 160,000 lives a year — more than breast, colon, pancreatic and prostate cancer combined. Few people understand that today 80 percent of those diagnosed with lung cancer are either former smokers, most having quite decades ago, or those who have never smoked at all. The idea that anyone who gets lung cancer “gets what they deserve” remains pervasive in the public consciousness.  This is wrong. An entire community of survivors has been silenced into thinking they should not talk openly about their struggles while survivors of other cancers are presented in a more positive light as they battle the same kind of disease that is only differentiated by where it was first found in the body.

That’s what makes the work of this Caucus so crucial going forward. It will provide a platform for a robust discussion among key thought leaders on how we can best devise a more coordinated, comprehensive and compassionate federal plan of action to better assist all those impacted by lung cancer. The caucus will provide a forum where stakeholders will learn about a host of emerging issues such as lung cancer screening and its responsible implementation, biomarker research, new treatment breakthroughs, access to quality care, and lung cancer’s impact on special populations. For example, we’ll work to bring more attention to our military men and women, who have higher incidence and mortality rates as compared to our civilian population, and to women with nonsmoking cancer.

Meaningful change doesn’t happen overnight, but this effort is an important step in altering how people view lung cancer and ensuring it is viewed as a public health priority — whether you are a current, former or nonsmoker. It is too important to ignore. Patients, survivors and advocates in communities all over this country who deal with this disease every day deserve our attention.

Join this effort. We need your support. Together we can save lives.

 

By ?Reps. Rick Nolan (D-Minn.), Frank LoBiondo (R-N.J.), Lois Capps (D-Calif.) and Laurie Fenton Ambrose, President & CEO, Lung Cancer Alliance

Original post:  http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/healthcare/254329-the-lung-cancer-community-gains-new-bully-pulpit