Survey Reveals That Most Americans Are Not Concerned About Getting Lung Cancer

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A recent survey shows that only 40% of Americans are concerned that they might get lung cancer, and only about one in five have talked to their doctor about their risk for the disease, despite lung cancer being the leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. The 2022 Lung Health Barometer, released by the American Lung Association’s LUNG FORCE initiative on World Lung Cancer Day (August 1), examines awareness, attitudes, and beliefs about lung cancer.

“Lung cancer’s burden on families, individuals and our health-care system is far too great, and awareness about the disease is too low. In fact, only 29% of Americans know that lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. This low awareness is due in part to an undeserved stigma that has followed lung cancer for decades. The fact is that anyone can get lung cancer, and no one deserves it,” said Harold Wimmer, National President and CEO of the American Lung Association. “The good news is that the lung cancer survival rate has risen substantially, and awareness of this deadly disease has steadily increased. Greater awareness of lung cancer is key to securing research funding, encouraging lung cancer screening, reducing stigma around this disease, and ultimately, saving lives.”

Key Findings

The 2022 Lung Health Barometer surveyed 4,000 Americans nationwide about lung health and lung cancer. Key findings show that: 

  • Only about one in four respondents (26%) were aware that the lung cancer survival rate increased by over 30% in the past 10 years.
  • About 73% of adults have not spoken with their doctor about their risk for lung cancer, and only 40% are concerned they might get the disease. 
  • Only 29% of Americans know that lung cancer is the leading cancer killer.
  • Nearly 70% of respondents were not familiar with the availability of lung cancer screening for early detection of the disease.

Lung cancer screening is key to early diagnosis, and early diagnosis saves lives. While awareness about the screening is still low, there has been significant work done recently to increase eligibility. Last year, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force expanded the guidelines for screening to include individuals ages 50 to 80 years who have a 20 pack-year smoking history and currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years. This nearly doubled the number of individuals eligible for screening and has the potential to save significantly more lives than previous guidelines.

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®.