Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in men and women worldwide, yet it is the most underfunded type of cancer when it comes to research. Support critical needs for lung cancer research funding and screening Sunday morning with Run for Life, a 3 mile fun run/walk hosted by the Lung Cancer Research Foundation (LCRF) around beautiful Lake Agawam. All proceeds from the Strides event benefit innovative lung cancer research at top medical institutions.
To learn more about the state of lung cancer research and treatment, we talked with Jan Baranski, PhD, Director of Scientific Programs at LCRF and Nancy Sanford, Executive Director of LCRF.
What do you wish that more people knew about lung cancer?
More people die of lung cancer than breast, colorectal, pancreatic and prostate cancer combined. The five-year survival rate is just 17 percent and has barely changed over the last three decades. More research is urgently needed to transform recent discoveries into therapies that will help patients in the clinic.
Most people at this point know that smoking can cause lung cancer. Are there other risk factors?
While smoking is the biggest risk factor for lung cancer, environmental factors such as radon gas, asbestos and other chemicals also increase the risk of developing lung cancer.
Is lung cancer research/screening underfunded?
Although lung cancer is the number one cancer killer in the world, it is the most underfunded type of cancer. For every death, lung cancer research receives approximately $1,500 from the National Institutes of Health, compared to $17,000 for every breast cancer death. The perception that lung cancer only affects smokers and the widespread stigma associated with lung cancer are linked to delays in treatment and low levels of funding for research.
Are there any breakthroughs on the horizon for treatment or detection of lung cancer?
Advances in areas such as biomarker testing and the development of targeted treatments and immunotherapies are showing great promise. Some amazing results have been produced by researchers in the lab and in clinical trials. A big remaining challenge, however, is how those types of successes can be expanded and translated to the general lung cancer patient population outside of carefully controlled trials. Researchers have known for some time that cancer is actually many diseases in one. While great advances have been made in treating and preventing some forms of the disease, more work is needed to continue these advancements until all forms of cancer become treatable or preventable. Much of the research that the LCRF funds is focused on these areas.
For you, what's the best/most inspiring part of the race?
This event is all about hope – we have nearly 900 participants from 1 year old to 83 years old participating. Everyone can do their part and together we can raise money for these critical projects. We are "breathing life into research." Come out and support us on Sunday!
· Strides for Life [LCRF]