Just 9% of Irish people aware lung cancer the biggest cancer killer for women

People with the disease are stigmatised due to its link to smoking, research finds

Lung cancer is the bigger cancer killer among women in Ireland, responsible for more deaths than breast and colorectal cancer combined. Photograph: PA

Lung cancer is the bigger cancer killer among women in Ireland, responsible for more deaths than breast and colorectal cancer combined. Photograph: PA

 

Most Irish people are unaware lung cancer kills more than any other form of the disease, new research indicates.

Just 9 per cent of the population correctly identified that lung cancer was the bigger cancer killer among women in Ireland, responsible for more deaths than breast and colorectal cancer combined.

Almost half of those questioned (47 per cent) believed breast cancer was the leading cause of cancer deaths in Irish women and almost a third (37 per cent) identified cervical cancer.

Lung cancer also suffers from a significant stigma as people with the disease get blamed due to its link to smoking, according to the Marie Keating Foundation, which commissioned the research.

The charity described as shocking a finding that one-quarter of those surveyed believed lung cancer patients who never smoked should get priority over those that do.

Access to treatment

“No one deserves to get cancer and all cancer patients deserve our support and equal access to treatment,” said Liz Yeates, chief executive of the foundation.

“We hope that by increasing awareness of the disease, we can challenge these attitudes and increase people presenting to their GP at an earlier stage.”

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About 2,600 Irish people are diagnosed with lung cancer every year and cases are projected to rise by up to 136 per cent in 2040.

The knowledge gap around lung cancer is particularly acute among young people, with 52 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds wrongly identifying breast cancer as killing more women than lung cancer, and just 1 per cent correctly identifying lung cancer mortality as higher.

About 2,600 Irish people are diagnosed with lung cancer every year and cases are projected to rise by up to 136 per cent in 2040.

Inequalities

The research is due to be presented at an event in Dublin on Wednesday to mark Lung Cancer Awareness Month 2018 and discuss health and social inequalities in treatment of different cancers.

“We need to change the conversation around this disease and dramatically increase the profile of lung cancer in this country. In parallel we must tackle the stigma and ‘blame game’ mentality associated with it,” Dr Anne-Marie Baird of Lung Cancer Europe will tell the event.

“By doing this as a community, we will ensure that people affected by lung cancer have improved outcomes through equal and timely access to innovative diagnostics, treatment and care.’’