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Little sympathy for lung cancer patients

A critical perspective

Canadians tend to judge people stricken by lung cancer to a greater extent than do people of many other countries, according to a recent study conducted by . Although this form of cancer is as painful and frightening as any other, consisting of symptoms that can include coughing (with and without blood), shortness of breath, chest and/or abdominal pain, weight loss, dysphagia, etc., because lung cancer is commonly believed to be brought on by the patients themselves, there tends to be less sympathy towards sufferers.

Survey results found 1 in 5 of us admit to this attitude – generally 22% of our population – with men making up 27% and women 19%. Though the Canadian view has much company among the other 15 countries surveyed, we’re far more critical than those with greater empathy such as Argentina – the most caring country, coming in at only 10%. Countries shown to have the lowest rates of smoking tended to be the least sympathetic to lung cancer patients, despite the fact that 15% of these individuals never smoked and acquired the disease through exposure to radon, asbestos, air pollution or second-hand smoke – often from co-workers or people with whom they live. Regardless of the cause, lung cancer currently kills four times as many people as does breast cancer – roughly 20,000.

Heather McQuaid, an oncology social worker maintains that lung cancer patients feel stigmatized. The superficial attitude that gives way to this stigma may very well be the reason why $25 million was invested in breast cancer research in 2007, compared with a paltry $8 million towards lung cancer, directly “impacting on the support these cancer victims receive, particularly from the healthcare system,” according to CEO and President of the Canadian Lung Association, Heather Borquez. Can’t we do better?

2 comments:

sharon(aka Purley Quirt ) said...

I think this "avoidance" issue may be more linked to the " cough" ...than the " cancer".

We are super conditioned to the many illnesses transmitted through coughing, steeped in how to avoid/prevent contamination from a cough.

Even those who do not know the cause of the cough will create a wide berth.

As far as the word "discrimination" is applied ...... I think "isolation" is more descriptive of what the patient would like to have corrected.

said...

This is a stigma that is placed on any type of lung disease or problem. I lost my husband to COPD 3 years ago and even though he smoked, most of his problems were from years of asthma and some bouts with pneumonia that scarred his lungs. No one knows the feeling of unconcern from others unless they've walked in those shoes. It's a sad state for so many who struggle to breathe, whether it's from lung cancer or what.