Lung Cancer: Opportunities to Reduce Mortality Through Policy

Published on November 9, 2011

Updated on November 21, 2017

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death for both men and women, accounting for 28 percent of all cancer deaths, more than colon cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, and pancreatic cancer combined. Yet in research dollars per death, lung cancer is the least funded of the major cancers.

However, more so now than perhaps at any other time in recent memory, we have an opportunity to capitalize on advances in screening, a shifting attitude towards tobacco use and access to preventive services, to begin to impact this high mortality through policy change.

Policy makers at Federal, state and local levels have begun to understand the value of prevention and early diagnosis in lung cancer.  The Federal government has put stricter regulations on tobacco product manufacturers in place, and state and local governments have begun restricting the use of tobacco products in public places.  Public and private employers also recognize the value of providing access to cessation programs to help keep their workforce healthier.

But not all cases of lung cancer are caused by tobacco use. Nearly 20 percent of lung cancer patients have never smoked. And another factor contributing to high mortality is that only 16 percent of lung cancer is being diagnosed at an early stage.

Legislation introduced in Congress, the Lung Cancer Mortality Reduction Act S. 752/HR 1394, will help address the needs in lung cancer research and access to new screening technology. The bill calls for a coordinated approach across government to address the high mortality in lung cancer, increased research dollars for lung cancer specifically and development of better screening and early detection technology and standards.

Advancing this legislation will be a priority for the Prevent Cancer Foundation.  To learn more about how to become engaged in advocacy for cancer prevention, visit our advocacy page.

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