A Diagnostics & Imaging Week

The U.S. House of Representatives unanimously declared lung cancer a public health priority and called for a reduction in mortality "by at least half by 2015."

Lung Cancer Alliance (LCA) President and CEO Laurie Fenton-Ambrose hailed this week's passage of House Resolution 335 (H.Res.335) as "a highly significant breakthrough, most welcome during November, Lung Cancer Awareness Month."

The U.S. Senate unanimously passed a similar resolution in August of this year.

"By its action today, the House has now joined the Senate in declaring lung cancer research and mortality reduction public health priorities. This is the first time that both houses of Congress have gone on record stating that the under funding, stigma and neglect of lung cancer must end," she said.

Fenton Ambrose highly praised the primary House sponsors on H.Res.335 — Reps. Lois Capps (D-California), Ed Whitfield (R-Kentucky) and Donna Christensen (D-Virginia).

"LCA and all of our stakeholders are grateful to Reps. Capps, Whitfield and Christensen and to the 78 other members of Congress who joined as sponsors for their leadership in recognizing the need to address lung cancer with a sense of commitment and urgency," Fenton-Ambrose said.

"LCA also salutes its advocates around the country for their dedication to making the public and their elected Representatives aware of the devastating statistics on lung cancer."

As both the House and Senate resolutions note, lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death for men and women, taking more lives each year than breast, prostate, colon, kidney, melanoma and liver cancers — combined.

With large commitments over the years for research funding and screening, the five year survival rates for breast cancer have risen to 88%, for prostate cancer to 99% and for colon cancer to 65%.

The least-funded of all the major cancers, lung cancer's five-year mortality rate has never gone above 15%, leaving few survivors to advocate for more funding for research and early detection.

Patients are often stigmatized and blamed for their disease whether they smoked or not, Fenton-Ambrose pointed out, even though over 50% of new cases are in former smokers and another 15% in people who never smoked.

"These resolutions passed by the House and Senate will help break through decades of neglect and blame and lead to fundamental policy changes in the way we address and fund lung cancer research and early detection," she said.