Jun 20, 2012
Author: Otto Akkerman
Non-small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC) has long suffered from the stigma of being perceived as a ‘preventable’ disease suffered by people who lacked the self discipline to stop or never try smoking. Any stigma for a disease is unfortunate but for NSCLC, it’s particularly a bad issue on 3 levels:
1) Its made fundraising a challenge in comparison to other cancers such as Breast, Prostate, and Colorectal ;
2) Current and former smokers suffering from NSCLC often have to deal with the burden of depression and guilt for themselves and loved ones; and
3) NSCLC patients who have never smoked (and there are a number of them) often deal with depression that comes from feeling incredibly unlucky and the need to plead their case as a non-smoker to whoever they discuss their condition.
What impact this has on patients’ response to treatment and overall outcomes is not clear. Nor is it fully understood if clinicians regard NSCLC patients who continue to smoke differently than those who do.
This is something likely worthy of exploring. As we see in one patient’s account of their experience, the stigma attached to lung cancer can have a devastating impact on
the will to fight and survive.