Lung cancer isn’t something to be celebrated, but fewer deaths from it is something that a lot of people are finding joy in, especially caregivers who have seen how devastating this condition can be.
This trend comes courtesy of the National Institutes for Health, which recently shared that there continues to be a decrease in the death rates for lung cancer and melanoma.
The team at Accredited Home Care is excited to hear this news but knows that more can be done in terms of treatment and prevention.
Interestingly, the NIH reports that there are still increasing rates of cancer for children, teens, and women which is concerning, but the lower death rate for men and women of all races and ethnic groups is encouraging. The period that was tracked was 2001 to 2018.
The rate of decline increase, from 1.8 percent annually from 2001 to 2015, and then 2.3 percent from 2015 to 2018 in males, and 1.4 percent per year from 2001 to 2015, and 2.1 percent from 2015-2018 in females.
There’s plenty of credit to go around, especially for lower lung cancer deaths, including better therapies and efforts to cut down on tobacco smoking, which is a common cause of smoking.
Education efforts seem to play a role, whether it’s telling people about the dangers of smoking or making fewer locations to smoke.
Programs like World Lung Cancer Day encourage people to learn more about risk factors to avoid along with options in their community to help their health, such as screenings.
For this year’s commemoration, which ran Aug 1, the American Lung Association launched Lung Force, a national public health initiative that has been taking place since 2
The Lung Cancer Foundation of America also held a virtual fund-raiser to promote increased cancer research. The event also included a take-over of social media to draw attention to the issue. The event included streamed interviews and demonstrations with cancer officials, survivors, and patients. Instagram also included a series of inspirational photos of survivors during this time period.
It also shared information that lung cancer has a survival rate of 22 percent, which is the lowest among the more common cancers. The foundation said this is due to other cancers getting higher levels of funding for research, such as breast cancer, prostate cancer, and colorectal cancer.
So what does this mean? More work definitely has to be done in terms of education and outreach. It also means that people can still are getting lung cancer even though fewer of them are. This latest information also reveals that it isn’t just smokers who are susceptible to lung cancer: it can be exposure to other types of smoke, including air pollution, asbestos materials, and radon.
While the news about national trends is generally encouraging, it doesn’t do a lot to comfort people who are already dealing with the condition. They may already feel lonely and unhappy and maybe even scared about what’s ahead.
For caregivers working with these clients, there are some compassionate things to do to help them in this difficult situation.
- Listen to them. Someone dealing with lung cancer, or any kind of cancer for that matter, is going to be scared, confused, and overwhelmed. While a caregiver may not be able to find a cure, they can hear these concerns and offer a kind ear as the client tries to adjust and process.
- Don’t mention smoking. You don’t know the cause of the cancer, and it’s likely that they don’t know either. Although smoking is a common cause of lung cancer, it’s not the only one, and suggesting that their diagnosis was smoking-related could be inappropriate and even a little cruel. They may tell you what they suspect, but one of the challenges with lung cancer is that it’s difficult to identify an exact toxin since many people are around so many possible causes, such a second-hand smoke, which isn’t easy to notice, or radon, which is also difficult to detect.
- Find ways to help. They may need help but aren’t sure what to ask for or how to do so. But a caregiver can sometimes help out just by anticipating what they’ll need. This could be everything from a certain food they like to giving them a small gift to cheer them up.
- Offer info about services/support. While caregivers can do a lot, they can’t help with everything. Many are nurses by choice but will be happy to refer a client to a therapist or a support group for people dealing with various cancers and their families. This could be encouraging for everyone.
- Don’t share lung cancer data. Although this national decline in cancer deaths is exciting, it may not feel so great to people who have been diagnosed with it. They may be interested in this info if their cancer does go into remission, but when they’re in the middle of fighting it, it’s difficult to see a bigger picture.