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Stigma associated with lung cancer addressed at nationwide summit

The National Lung Cancer Roundtable (NLCRT), established by the American Cancer Society, took a major step last month to erase the stigma associated with lung cancer. 

The first National Summit on Lung Cancer Stigma, held on Feb 26 and 27 in Atlanta, brought together organizations, lung cancer survivors and caregivers, cancer clinicians and researchers, and government agencies to organize and build momentum for a sustained effort to end lung cancer stigma and its adverse impact on lung cancer care and outcomes.

“Because of the association with smoking, many lung cancer patients, including people who are smoking now, people who used to smoke, and people who never smoked, experience shame, guilt, and disgrace that greatly affects diagnosis, treatment, and psychological well-being,” said Rich Wender, MD, our chief cancer control officer. “We are bringing together people from all different disciplines to tackle the problem and improve outcomes.”  

Lung cancer is the second most common cancer in men and women, and the leading cause of cancer death in men and women. Tobacco is the leading cause of lung cancer, but often interacts with other factors including genetics. Still, about 20% of people who die of lung cancer have never used any form of tobacco. 

More than 65 summit participants shared their experiences and knowledge, as well as initial ideas for ending lung cancer stigma. 

The program began by creating a common understanding of the history and current status of lung cancer related stigma across the care continuum. Lung cancer survivors, caregivers, and clinicians, shared personal stories, and the session concluded with an overview of the evidence on how lung cancer stigma influences patient care and outcomes. 

With lung cancer survivors and advocates integrated across all discussion groups on day two, attendees engaged in extensive dialogue regarding the central issues that must be addressed. The summit concluded with a strong commitment by the participants to work towards eliminating lung cancer stigma by banding together and generating a blueprint for reaching that goal. 

The NLCRT and summit participants will propose a comprehensive strategic plan to end lung cancer stigma at the 4th annual National Lung Cancer Roundtable meeting on December 7-8, 2020, in Washington, D.C. 

Watch a video summary of the meeting.

ACS and the NLCRT’s Lung Cancer Stigma Summit Planning Committee would like to thank AstraZeneca, Genentech, Amgen, and Bristol-Myers Squibb for their support. 

The NLCRT is a national coalition of public, private, and voluntary organizations and invited individuals dedicated to reducing the incidence of and mortality from lung cancer in the U.S. 

PHOTOS: Attendees at the first National Summit on Lung Cancer Stigma in Atlanta last month.

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