Debunking Common Lung Cancer Myths and Stopping the Stigma

Lung cancer is more prevalent than we think, yet not often talked about openly and without judgement.
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Picture: MSD Malaysia

Did you know that every day, approximately 10 Malaysians die of lung cancer[1]? According to the World Health Organisation, this cancer is also responsible for the highest number of deaths in 2018, specifically 1.8 million deaths which is equivalent to 18.4% of the total[2].

Unfortunately, due to the stigma attached to this disease, patients have reportedly delayed their diagnosis and treatment[3]. This has also caused the lack in support and public empathy for lung cancer when compared to many other diseases.

In an effort to stop such stigma, it’s crucial to first fix common misconceptions about the disease and educate the public regarding potential life-saving truths.

Myth #1: Only smokers succumb to lung cancer

While a majority of people who have it are smokers (or were at some point), as many as 20% of the people who die of this cancer do not smoke or use any form of tobacco.

However, it is also important to note that people who smoke are up to 30 times more likely to get lung cancer or die from it than people who do not smoke[4]. Those who quit smoking have a lower risk than if they had continued to smoke, but their risk is higher than the risk for people who never smoked[5]. Quiting smoking at any age can also lower the risk.

READ: Early Screening Curbs Lung Cancer In Malaysia

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