Over the years, the lung cancer community has faced stigma due to lack of information on this disease. General knowledge about lung cancer has been mostly linked to risk behaviors such as smoking; however, anyone can be diagnosed with lung cancer regardless of behaviors. A person who smokes, doesn’t smoke, and never smoked are all at risk. This stigma has played a role in underfunding research, lowering emotional well-being, and worsening patient outcomes.
Many patients with lung cancer find it daunting to have the same conversation repeatedly about whether or not they smoked or dealt with nicotine addiction. Increased education about how lung cancer can happen to anyone will help decrease stigma over time.
You may feel it is necessary to have a short talking point ready for these conversations. This way you can answer the question and address the stigma issue at the same time.
Examples of this include:
“I understand why you are asking about smoking, but anyone can be diagnosed with lung cancer.”
“ Yes, smoking is a risk factor, but more research is showing that issues like the environment or genetics also play a role in patients with lung cancer.”