Providing new perspectives on the country’s deadliest cancer, the report speaks to a virtual avalanche that devastates and impacts countless lives and systems in its path.  In a disease with low survival rates, we are at risk of failing patients and caregivers due to obstacles preventing access to life-prolonging treatment, limited research investment, inadequate availability of local support services, as well as a concerning lack of compassion for patients and caregivers living with the disease.

The inequities start even before diagnosis. Depending on where a patient lives, it can impact how quickly they are diagnosed, the support they can access, and how long it will take to see a specialist and receive treatment.

Caregivers are key soldiers in a patient’s fight but this comes at a high cost. Fifty nine percent of caregivers reduce the number of hours they work, and a further
8 percent quit their jobs to look after a loved one with lung cancer.  Fifty percent of caregivers reported a negative impact on their household finances.

When asked what would make caregiving easier to manage, caregivers most often mention greater empathy towards lung cancer in general and better access to support services.  However, the survey showed that only 26 percent of caregivers have ever received these services.  Even when they are offered, wait times and access points can differ between provinces, regions, and cities.

The deep-seated perception that lung cancer is self-inflicted places an additional burden on families. This negative stigma prevails despite the fact that the majority of Canadian lung cancer patients are ex-smokers, and many never smoked at all.

"When asked what would make caregiving easier to manage, caregivers most often mention greater empathy towards lung cancer in general and better access to support services. However, the survey showed that only 26 percent of caregivers have ever received these services."

Although lung cancer has the highest mortality of all cancers in Canada, it receives a disproportionate amount of research investment compared with both the scope of the cancer and with other cancers.  In fact, as of 2012, significantly more funds were going into research for breast cancer and prostate cancer.  While it is important that research continue in these cancers, it is also important to acknowledge the obvious need for more investment in lung cancer research that, at the very least, matches the significant burden of disease. Indeed lung cancer kills more Canadians a year than breast cancer, prostate cancer, and colorectal cancers combined.

As outlined in the report, lung cancer patients and their caregivers continue to face a number of significant challenges. Lung Cancer Canada urges all Canadians to step-up and advocate for everyone who suffers from lung cancer and help create the necessary change.

For more information on lung cancer and to view a copy of the Faces of Lung Cancer report, please visit:
www.lungcancercanada.ca.