September 2019 Newsletter

In this issue:

Barriers to Improved Lung Cancer Outcomes:

As we watch lung cancer survival rates slowly creep upward, we are encouraged that our collective work is paying off and there is reason to feel hopeful for the future. However, an 18.4% survival rate isn’t acceptable. We must also remember that lung cancer claims the lives of nearly twice as many women as breast cancer, and more American lives than breast, colon and prostate cancers combined. We have so much more to do.

So, what are the barriers and what should we focus on to bring real change?

Barrier 1: Smoking stigma.
Even though it is true that smoking is the number one cause of lung cancer, it isn’t true that this group of people deserve their disease. Many diseases are caused by personal choices and habits, yet lung cancer patients, whether they smoked or not, continue to report unkind remarks, shame and blame after being diagnosed with lung cancer. This attitude does not lead to reduced smoking, but it does lead to higher levels of anxiety and depression which in turn can lead to poor health outcomes.

It would do us well to remember that smoking is a disease in and of itself – it is very difficult to quit. That’s why tobacco companies work so hard to target our kids. They bank on the addiction formed at young ages to make their billions.

Barrier 2: Screening.
The key to early detection is preventative screening and for myriad reasons, lung cancer is the cancer we screen for the least of the common cancers. Eligibility is currently limited to people over the age of 55 with heavy smoking histories. Other lung cancer causes such as radon exposure, family history, genetics and asbestos exposure are not currently considered for screening eligibility. Know that we are working hard to expand screening criteria, but in the meantime, we encourage all smokers to talk honestly with their doctors. If you meet eligibility criteria, get that annual low does CT scan! Recent studies have shown that it can reduce the risk of mortality by up to 60%!

Barrier 3: Research funding.
Per cancer death and its burden on society as the number one cause of cancer death, lung cancer remains grossly underfunded. Without adequate research spending, the science that leads to better screening tools and new treatments is compromised. While lung cancer claims nearly twice as many women’s lives as breast cancer, NCI research spending on breast cancer in 2017 was approximately 70% higher than spending on lung cancer.

Barrier 4: Medical Literacy.
Health literacy is the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions. Recent studies show that only 12 percent of U.S. adults have proficient health literacy, making it difficult and stressful to navigate the healthcare system and a serious diagnosis such as lung cancer.

A Breath of Hope Lung Foundation works to overcome survival barriers with the following strategies:

  • Educates the public about the stigma, causes and symptoms of lung cancer to reduce anxiety, depression and missed diagnoses. We know prevention and early detection are the key to real change.
  • Co-hosts statewide meetings for healthcare professionals to identify and share strategies to improve screening rates in Minnesota.
  • Releases $10,000 screening grants in November to help healthcare systems overcome their own patient’s barriers to screening.
  • Announces two $150,000 U.S. research awards in November!
  • Introduces the Animated Guide to Lung Cancer in Spanish at the World Conference on Lung Cancer in Barcelona, Spain this September. The new program, like its English counterpart at www.YouAndLungCancer.Com, is free and easy to use for patients and caregivers. It promotes increased understanding of lung cancer, diagnosis, and treatment, and facilitates important behavior modifications in patient self-management. Most importantly, it strengthens physician-patient discussions and shared decision making for better outcomes. Una Guía Animada para Cáncer de Pulmón will go live 9/5/2019 at www.UstedYCancerDePulmon.Com.

Midwest Lung Cancer Summit: November 2 in Minneapolis

2019 Lung Run/Walk Survivor PhotoIt is for our survivors and their caregivers that we happily announce the 2nd Annual Midwest Lung Cancer Summit at the Minneapolis Airport Marriott in Minneapolis. With physicians and experts presenting from Mayo Clinic, U of M, and other A Breath Of Hope healthcare partners, we offer this robust day of education to bring hope and improve health outcomes for people living with lung cancer.

97% of 2018 summit participants evaluated the overall success of the event as “excellent” and the most common write-in feedback we received was, “We can’t wait until next year!”

From clinical trials to pain and stress management to nutrition to legal issues, navigating a cancer diagnosis is not easy! This Summit is designed to offer attendees tangible tools that increase their knowledge, reduce stress and enable them to implement shared decision-making skills with their personal health care team.

New this year – the Town Hall Forum during lunch! With eight or more local elected officials on the stage, patients will have the unique and exciting opportunity to tell their story and ask questions about the issues that most concern them.

View a list of sessions and presenters.

2019 Lung Run/Walk Report

2019 Walk Start LineThe 13th Annual A Breath of Hope Lung Run/Walk took place August 10. It was cloudy for a little while, but we didn’t let it rain on our parade! In fact, this year we crushed each of our event goals!

  • Around 1800 participants ran, walked or rode the survivor bus to show their support for lung cancer research and increased disease awareness
  • Our peer-to-peer team fundraisers raised $110,000, surpassing our goal of $90,000
  • Generous event sponsors added more revenue than ever before – more than $100,000 for life-saving research!

This event helps us fund new research fellowships and allows us to bring important education to more people. Thank you to everyone who supported – we hope to see you next year – August 9, 2020!

If you haven’t already done so, be sure to check out our event photo gallery.

Save the Date Reminders

Check out our event page to register for upcoming events, including our Lung Cancer Awareness Month (LCAM) events:

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