Victims of lung cancer have a message for the rest of us: "Lung cancer doesn't discriminate."
Even though it's the most common killer in the world, affecting more men and women than all other forms of cancer combined, lung cancer continues to be greatly misunderstood. Everyone knows that pink ribbons symbolize breast cancer awareness, but can you name the color for lung cancer? (Answer: it's white)
Yes, the vast majority of lung cancers occur in those who have smoked cigarettes, but it also occurs with startling frequency in individuals who have never smoked.
Exposure to asbestos, radon, environmental pollutants, and even genetics can all play a part in the development of lung cancer. But it's the connection with smoking that sticks in peoples' minds, making it the most taboo of cancers. Even if someone has smoked, their exposure to asbestos, radon, or other toxin can greatly increase their chances of developing lung cancer.
Lung cancer victims often report feeling stigmatized when others learn of their disease, as if they have brought their illness upon themselves. According to Christine Dwyer, the founder of Cancergrief.com, many lung cancer patients fear revealing that they have the disease since they are so often asked, Well, did you smoke?
"That's really a rude question, and it's very offensive in the lung cancer community," Dwyer said. "Smoking puts you at risk, and no one is going to argue that fact, but the fact is there are so many chemicals in the air and water that anybody who breathes is at risk.
More people in the U.S. die from lung cancer than from any other type, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2007, more than 200,000 people were diagnosed with the disease and almost 160,000 died because of it. It is estimated that lung cancer from asbestos is one of the most common types of the disease after smoking.
Many victims of asbestos lung cancer do not realize that even if they smoked, they may still be entitled to financial compensation if they were exposed to asbestos at any point in their lives.
Lung cancer is frequently misdiagnosed
Even though lung cancer is the world's largest cancer killer, it is frequently misdiagnosed - especially in non-smokers. Like mesothelioma cancer, which is also caused by asbestos exposure, the earlier that asbestos lung cancer is caught, the better the treatment options become.
If a case of lung cancer turns out to have been caused by exposure to asbestos, the victim may be entitled to compensation. Experienced lung cancer lawyers can help asbestos lung cancer victims navigate the law in order to receive compensation for their illnesses.