Global Perceptions of Lung Cancer

PEOPLE LIVING WITH LUNG CANCER ARE TOO OFTEN STIGMATISED BECAUSE OF LINK TO SMOKING

Lung cancer patients are likely to suffer significant stigma due to the disease's link to smoking, according to a published survey.

The research, which was carried out by Ipsos MORI on behalf of The Global Lung Cancer Coalition, investigated attitudes surrounding the disease, which is the biggest cancer killer worldwide.

Researchers found that between 10% and 29% of people in the countries surveyed admitted they felt less sympathetic towards lung cancer sufferers because of the known association with smoking cigarettes and other tobacco products.

The research, which surveyed over 16,000 people in 16 countries, also found some evidence that sympathy levels were influenced by rates of smoking in each country. Generally people in countries with lower rates of smoking had a greater tendency to admit that they felt less sympathetic to people with lung cancer compared with other types of cancer. However, the pattern is not perfect, which suggests that other cultural or traditional factors also have an important role to play.

Dr Matthew Peters, chair of The Global Lung Cancer Coalition, which is made up of 26 non-government patient organizations across the globe, said, "this research supports what we have suspected for a long time; that lung cancer carries a noteworthy stigma."

Although the majority of those questioned rejected the notion that they felt less sympathetic towards lung cancer sufferers because of its association with smoking, there was still a significant proportion who admitted they did stigmatize the disease.

"You simply do not see this type of blame culture with any other disease. Lung cancer is the biggest cancer killer in the world. There is no place for a culture of blame or shame that adversely affects individuals and contributes at a broader level to poor resourcing of the research necessary to allow people to live longer and better lives after a lung cancer diagnosis. No one deserves lung cancer.”
 

Perceptions of Lung Cancer in Canada (PDF)
Perceptions of lung cancer and potential impacts on funding and patient care: a qualitative study.