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Media Ignore Lung Cancer Threat

It kills more than the next three cancers combined

Have you heard the news about lung cancer?

Probably not. Media coverage of cancer -- including diagnostics, new treatments and events to raise research money -- usually focus on breast, prostate and colorectal cancers. Despite the devastation caused by those diseases, lung cancer kills more Americans each year than the other three cancers combined. In the United Kingdom, one survey found that fewer than one-eighth of media articles discuss lung cancer, Ananova reports.

Diane Blum, executive director of Cancer Care, a non-profit group in San Francisco, says the dearth of media attention means that people may be discouraged from seeking early help for the symptoms of lung cancer. Dr. Kim Mulvihill, a medical columnist for KRON-TV, describes the group's survey of media coverage.

Part of the reason so little news coverage goes to lung cancer might be because no major advances in lung cancer have occurred in about 20 years. For cases in which lung cancer has spread, the five-year survival rate has remained steady at about 14 or 15 percent. And although chemotherapy saves some patients, the treatment that offers the best hope of a cure remains the most drastic -- surgery to remove part or all of an affected lung.

With a workable cure still nowhere in sight, the best way to reduce lung-cancer deaths is to avoid the causes. Ninety percent of lung cancers can be traced to smoking. Radon gas is believed responsible for the other 10 percent.

The FDA Consumer magazine provides detailed information on lung cancer and describes how giving up smoking not only cuts the risk of developing lung cancer but also improves the odds of successful treatment for those already diagnosed with the disease. The U.S. National Cancer Institute has detailed treatment information for non-small cell lung cancer, which accounts for three-fourths of all lung cancer cases.

A previous HealthDay story describes a U.S. radon map that depicts geographic areas with the highest risk of exposure and provides links to help find services that test for the odorless radioactive gas.

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