Survey Shows Increased Public Awareness of Lung Cancer Over Past Decade


Survey results released by the Lung Cancer Alliance (LCA) show that general awareness about lung cancer has improved significantly over the past decade, with 94% of the public reporting familiarity with lung cancer. Despite this change in overall perspective, findings also indicate that lung cancer stigma remains a significant problem, with an increased belief that patients with lung cancer are viewed or treated differently than patients with other cancers. 

Conducted by LCA and sponsored by AstraZeneca, the national survey, which was first conducted in 2008, tracked the perspectives of patients, oncologists, and the general public on lung cancer. The original survey was replicated to determine whether perceptions have changed over the past decade. The full results will be formally unveiled at the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC) 19th World Conference on Lung Cancer.

Survey Findings

Even as lung cancer awareness and visibility trend upward, stigma continues to impact how patients view their own lung cancer journey. The survey found increases in perspectives about stigma across many fronts from 2008 to 2018, including general patient recognition of stigma (54% vs 70%), a feeling that patients with lung cancer are treated differently by society (45% vs 63%), and a belief that loved ones would be more supportive of them if the patients had a different type of cancer (11% vs 25%). In addition, oncologists surveyed in 2018 believe there is a stigma associated with lung cancer (68%), although more thought the stigma was lower for never-smokers. From 2008 to 2018, more oncologists noted that patients with lung cancer blame themselves for their diagnoses (57% vs 67%).

“The good news is that this survey shows what we have suspected for some time—lung cancer awareness has increased significantly across many channels over the last decade,” said Jennifer C. King, PhD, Director of Science and Research with LCA and lead author of the study. “However, we recognize the challenges we still face as our community becomes more aware of the role that stigma plays in their lives. This understanding better positions us to proactively work towards meaningful solutions for patients while bringing greater awareness to this aspect of the lung cancer experience.”

Additional findings include:

  • Media are telling more stories about lung cancer. Every segment—public (65%), patients (78%), and oncologists (85%)—reported increased media visibility for lung cancer.
  • Advocacy organizations are more of a lifeline for patients. Patients reported significantly increased use of advocacy organizations (18% vs 39%).
  • Treatment advances continue to improve outlook for oncologists and patients. Significantly more oncologists reported having adequate treatment options to prolong patients’ lives (31% vs 52%), and the majority of patients reported satisfaction with medical care (87%) and treatment options (71%).

More About the Survey

The survey was conducted by Russell Research. In 2008, a large survey of patients, oncologists, and the general public revealed that most participants felt lung cancer was principally caused by external factors, was preventable, and that patients with lung cancer were at least partly to blame for their illness. This survey was replicated to understand whether perceptions have changed over the past decade.

A total of 1,001 members of the general public, 208 patients, and 205 oncologists who treat lung cancer were surveyed with the same questions from 2008, plus 3 to 11 new questions about stigma. The survey was administered by phone and online during the summer of 2018.

The content in this post has not been reviewed by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Inc. (ASCO®) and does not necessarily reflect the ideas and opinions of ASCO®.