Global Survey Shows Misperceptions About Lung Cancer Among the General Public

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Only one in five people (22%) disagrees with the statement “generally, patients with lung cancer have caused their illness through their lifestyle choices and behaviors,” according to a global, omnibus survey conducted by Ipsos MORI and sponsored by the Lung Ambition Alliance. The results were released to coincide with the end of National Lung Cancer Awareness Month. Lung cancer is a disease still associated with stigma. The stigma of lung cancer is problematic and may make smokers feel guilty and delay talking to their doctor about potential symptoms.1

Survey Highlights

The majority of people surveyed (59%) are confident that in 5 years’ time a significantly higher proportion of those diagnosed with lung cancer will be cured compared with now. However, today, approximately 1 in 5 people is alive 5 years after an initial diagnosis2; despite recent progress on the positive role of early detection and new treatments, there is still a long way to go to significantly improve survival.

Almost 9 in 10 people surveyed (87%) are in favor of implementing a national program in their country to increase the detection of lung cancer in its early stages. Among them, nearly two in three respondents (62%) declared that they are “strongly” in favor of it.

The truth is, globally, many countries have not yet adopted lung cancer screening despite evidence suggesting that it saves lives.3-5 Approximately 40% of people are diagnosed after their disease has spread beyond the lungs, reducing the potential for treatment with curative intent.6 Every 18 seconds, a life is lost to lung cancer.7 In 2018 alone, approximately 1.8 million people died of the disease.


1. Global Lung Cancer Coalition: Global briefing: Symptom awareness and attitudes to lung cancer. Findings from a global study. Available at Accessed December 2, 2019.

2. Cancer.Net: Lung Cancer–Non-Small Cell: Statistics. Available at Accessed December 2, 2019.

3. Piana R: Although evidence is clear that lung cancer screening saves lives, adoption rates remain low. The ASCO Post. March 10, 2019.

4. Yousaf-Khan U, van der Aalst C, et al: Final screening round of the NELSON lung cancer screening trial: The effect of a 2.5-year screening interval. Thorax 72:48-56, 2017.

5. National Lung Screening Trial Research Team: Reduced lung-cancer mortality with low-dose computed tomographic screening. N Engl J Med 365:395-409, 2011.

6. Global Data: EpiCast Report: Non–small cell lung cancer epidemiology forecast to 2025. November 2016. Available at Accessed December 2, 2019.