One third believe sufferers to blame for contracting lung cancer

More than a third of people believe lung cancer patients bring the potentially deadly condition upon themselves, new research reveals.

Over 1,500 sufferers die every year making it the biggest cancer killer in the country.

But because of its link to smoking, people blame sufferers for contracting the disease, a new survey marking Lung Cancer Awareness month found.

They also thought breast cancer was a more life-threatening condition because it received more medical, political and media attention.

Dr Ray Mc Dermott, Medical Oncology Consultant with Tallaght Hospital, said: “This research highlights the fact that there are misconceptions regarding the severity of lung cancer and a blame culture appears to exist in connection with this disease.

“It is imperative that anyone who recognises the signs and symptoms of lung cancer should present to their GP as soon as possible and World Lung Cancer Awareness Month should act as a reminder to us all of the need for vigilance.

“Better screening and innovative new treatments in a multi-disciplinary team environment are now available for lung cancer patients offering greater hope to all Irish patients,” he said.

The TNS mrbi research, carried out among a sample number of households during August, revealed almost 50% of people questioned thought breast cancer to be more life-threatening to women than lung cancer.

But experts have warned the numbers diagnosed with the disease are increasing every year and it is predicted to overtake breast cancer as the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in Ireland.

Smoking causes around 85% of lung cancer cases, according to the European Institute of Women’s Health.

Medical specialists claim that while it is the deadliest cancer, it is also one of the easiest to prevent.

In the coming months, the Irish Cancer Society will unveil a lung cancer Patient Charter to provide a standard framework of treatment, care and rights for lung cancer patients.

It will address a number of areas including the right of patients to be free from blame and the importance of early diagnosis.

Norma Cronin, Irish Cancer Society’s Health Promotion Manager, said: “Unfortunately in Ireland lung cancer is the forgotten disease.

“We need to ensure that the population is aware of the signs and symptoms of the disease and present to their doctor without feeling blame or stigma.

“The Irish Cancer Society, in conjunction with Roche Products Ltd, has developed the Patient Charter to ensure that patients across Ireland are treated with the degree of care and attention that all patients deserve.

“In fact, we hope that by making the charter available, it will emphasise the need for more attention to be given to the disease amongst society as a whole,” she said.

Lung Cancer Awareness month aims to increase understanding of the signs and severity of the disease.

Symptoms include a persistent cough that lasts more than two to three weeks, constant chest or shoulder pain, coughing up blood, shortness of breath, persistent chest infections, unexplained fatigue and unexplained weight loss.

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