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Not just smokers: Every woman is at risk for lung cancer

teen_smokingEvery five minutes, a woman in the United States is diagnosed with lung cancer, including nearly 2,000 this year from Arizona. Half of these women will not be alive a year later, and two-thirds of women diagnosed never smoked or are former smokers. The American Lung Association is racing against the clock to save women’s lives, and to raise awareness of the facts that lung cancer is the number one cancer killer of women, and that every woman is at risk for the disease.

The American Lung Association of the Southwest is part of the nationwide LUNG FORCE initiative that is making lung cancer in women a public health priority, driving policy change and increasing research funding.

Taking on a women’s health crisis as complex as lung disease and cancer requires a comprehensive approach.  That’s why LUNG FORCE is partnering with lung cancer experts and investigators to increase our understanding of lung cancer, and supporting research to help discover new methods of early detection and treatment options. The American Lung Association supports local investigators like Landon Inge, Ph.D., of St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix, who is a recipient of the Association’s Biomedical Research Grant. Dr. Inge’s study centers on developing a compound to treat non-small cell lung cancer, which accounts for the cancer-related deaths in the United States.

On national and local levels, LUNG FORCE influences and mobilizes support for stronger policies addressing the key known causes for lung cancer—tobacco use, secondhand smoke, air pollution and radon exposure—as well as increased funding to expand lung cancer research. This advocacy work is essential to accelerating efforts to put lung cancer at the forefront of public health agendas.

Ending the devastating impact of lung cancer also means expanding access to best-in-class education, programs and services that individuals need to understand how to mitigate risk factors and to help families and individuals support and empower those living with a lung cancer diagnosis. The American Lung Association in Arizona supports numerous Better Breathers Clubs throughout the state; provides resources and support to property managers and residents interested in reducing secondhand smoke exposure in the home; and will be holding a LUNG FORCE Expo with dual tracks for healthcare providers and for patients/caregivers November 1 in Tucson.

LUNG FORCE is rallying our civic and corporate community to act boldly to bring hope to the fight against lung cancer. We have proudly partnered with CVS Caremark, who recently decided to end tobacco sales in its 7,600 CVS/pharmacy locations, noting that the sale of tobacco products does not align with the company’s purpose of helping people on their path to better health and that they have no place in a setting where health care is delivered. We encourage other companies and community organizations to take a similar strong stand against lung cancer and for lung health.

Through June 29, you can join our movement by visiting any CVS/pharmacy location in Arizona or at cvs.com/lung to learn more about lung cancer and LUNG FORCE and support our in-store fundraising campaign. All proceeds from the in-store fundraising campaign will support LUNG FORCE and raise critical funds for research, advocacy, health education and awareness around lung cancer in women. You can also join the American Lung Association on Tuesday, June 24th and learn more about LUNG FORCE, by stopping at CVS on 23215 North Pima Road in Scottsdale any time from 2:00 to 6:00 p.m. Most important, you will become a part of an unstoppable force that will, one day soon, be able to say we stood up against lung cancer and for lung health.

- Bill Pfeifer is CEO of the American Lung Association of the Southwest.

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