Fred R. Hirsch, MD, PhD, investigator at the University of Colorado Cancer Center and Professor of Medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine

Fred R. Hirsch, MD, PhD

Fred R. Hirsch, MD, PhD, investigator at the University of Colorado Cancer Center, professor of Medicine and Pathology at the University of Colorado Cancer Center and School of Medicine, and CEO of the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC), helped initiate the beginning of Lung Cancer Awareness Month (LCAM) at the beginning of November with a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington D.C. Dr. Hirsch’s briefing focused on the latest scientific advances in the field of lung cancer treatment and care and IASLC’s efforts to create a harmonized public awareness campaign with a consortium of patient advocate organizations and individuals.

“It is important to spread the message that lung cancer affects everyone: young and old, rich and poor, smoker and non-smoker. The stigma that exists and suggests otherwise is factually and fundamentally untrue. It was important that this November’s Lung Cancer Awareness Month reflect this. The IASLC, being the only global organization dedicated solely to fighting lung cancer, is the organization best equipped to bring people together to dispel stigma through an organized campaign focused on survivors and the advances currently being made in the field,” Dr. Hirsch said of the campaign and IASLC’s organizational role. That was the reason for Dr. Hirsch and the IASLC to take the initiative in bringing various advocate groups together around a common campaign.

The primary goal of the IASLC-led campaign is to share the personal stories of those whose lives have been affected by lung cancer – including patients, caregivers, and advocates – while pointing to scientific advances that are enabling these patients to live longer and healthier lives. This is being accomplished through a brand new website that was created for the campaign, which hosts patient stories and lung cancer facts. Additionally, the IASLC is using digital and social media, coupled with paid print and digital advertising, to support the campaign’s message and increase its efficacy and impact.

The harmonized campaign is designed to change the public’s discourse regarding the lung cancer field and preconceived notions about the types of populations affected by this disease. This tone was set through the National Press Club briefing, which was held on the morning of November 1, 2016. Joining Dr. Hirsch was a panel of other respected speakers including: Karen Loss, a lung cancer survivor; Andrea Stern Ferris, President of LUNGevity; Laurie Fenton Ambrose, President of the Lung Cancer Alliance; Kyle Hoylman, President of Cancer Survivors Against Radon (CanSAR); Chris Draft, President of The Chris Draft Family Foundation; and Paul Billings, National Senior Vice President of Advocacy of the American Lung Association. The panel was moderated by Dusty Donaldson, the Executive Director of Live Lung.

“The IASLC’s participation in this panel was critical to the message that we want to convey through this campaign and throughout the month of November,” said Dr. Hirsch. “It is our top priority to show that we are united in the fight against lung cancer and other thoracic malignancies and that lung cancer poses a significant threat to all types of people all over the world. Additionally, with the IASLC being a leader in providing educational and scientific material to lung cancer professionals and the general public, we are best equipped to highlight how the field is changing. The situation is dramatically improving, and the advances we’ve seen in lung cancer screening and early detection, personalized therapies, and immunotherapies are very exciting.”

Lung cancer causes 1.6 million annual deaths, more than breast, colon, and prostate cancers combined. Despite these numbers, lung cancer receives less funding than many other types of cancer. Through raising awareness and putting a human face on lung cancer, the IASLC and its partners will change misconceptions of the disease and help support the exciting trends in the field of lung cancer treatment and care. Those interested in contributing their lung cancer story to the harmonized LCAM campaign can visit www.lcam.org for more information.

The IASLC would like to thank the patient advocacy organizations that have collaborated on this initiative including: American Lung Association’s LUNG FORCE, The Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation, Caring Ambassadors, Free ME From Lung Cancer, Free to Breathe, Global Resource for Advancing Cancer Education (GRACE), Live Lung, Lung Cancer Alliance, Lung Cancer Europe, Lung Cancer Foundation of America, Lung Cancer Initiative of North Carolina, Lung Cancer Research Foundation, Lungevity, Patient Power, Rexanna’s Foundation, University of Colorado Cancer Center, Upstage Lung Cancer, Women Against Lung Cancer in Europe (WALCE).

The IASLC would also like to thank its fellow panel participants, the National Press Club, and Dusty Donaldson for organizing and moderating the event.