Cancer Awareness Days and Events in November

By Michael Bartlett on October 27th, 2017 in

While tobacco use is by far the most common risk factor, causing approximately 22% of the deaths this disease is accountable for, up to 50% of people who come to suffer from lung cancer are former smokers, whereas 15% of lung cancer patients have never smoked a cigarette.

- By Michael Bartlett

Undoubtedly, cancer has become incredibly widespread over the last century. The numerous carcinogens we are regularly exposed to nowadays, either environmentally or occupationally, as well as certain aspects of the modern lifestyle, such as diet and lack of physical activity, have been significantly contributing to the skyrocketing cancer rates which burden global population today. According to the World Health Organization, the number of new cancer cases will have raised to 25 million by 2035, which is a tremendous increase compared to the 14 million malignant diagnoses registered in 2012. By contrast, due to improved medical technology and increasingly effective treatment, there has been a substantial 25% decrease in cancer death rates since 1991.

The month of November has been chosen as a time to raise awareness of lung cancer and stomach cancer, which are currently two of the primary causes of cancer-related death worldwide. Nearly 50% of people who lose their lives to malignant diseases die of lung cancer, whereas stomach cancer is responsible for over 700,000 deaths every year. In the United States, a person is diagnosed with lung cancer every 2.5 minutes and before 1940, stomach cancer was the leading cause of cancer-related death among Americans.

In November, U.S. federal health agencies and non-profit cancer organizations throughout the world will also engage in commendable endeavors to increase the visibility of carcinoid tumors and pancreatic cancer in the hope of promoting early diagnosis and raising funds to further cancer research. National Bone Marrow Awareness Month and National Family Caregivers Month are also celebrated in November.

Lung Cancer Awareness Month

According to LUNGevity Foundation, 1 in 16 Americans will develop lung cancer at some point during their lifetime. While tobacco use is by far the most common risk factor, causing approximately 22% of the deaths this disease is accountable for, up to 50% of people who come to suffer from lung cancer are former smokers, whereas 15% of lung cancer patients have never smoked a cigarette. Neither gender nor ethnicity has been found to influence the risk of lung cancer. The reason why lung cancer has such a high mortality rate refers to the time of diagnosis, which can impact survival dramatically. Since early diagnosis is unfortunately rare, only 18% of those who suffer from this malignant disease will live for 5 years or more. On the other hand, timely detection of lung cancer cam improve prognosis to a great extent - roughly 45% of people diagnosed with stage I non-small cell lung cancer, the most common subtype, reach a 5-year survival.

In addition to smoking, the presence of the following risk factors can make one considerably more susceptible to developing lung cancer:

  • Secondhand tobacco smoke. Also known as passive smoking, inhaling the smoke coming from other people's cigarettes is actually just as harmful as using tobacco yourself. 2 out of 5 Americans who do not smoke are exposed to this carcinogenic agent on a regular basis, which partly explains why lung cancer is annually detected in 7,300 non-smokers.
  • Asbestos exposure. Lung cancer can also ensue as a consequence of asbestos exposure, particularly when it is occupational. Every year, 4,800 people in the U.S. lose their lives to asbestos-related lung cancer, the majority of whom had worked for several years in industries such as construction, shipbuilding, and automotive before the 1980s. To make matters worse, the chances of a person with a history of asbestos exposure to develop this disease are up to 90 times higher if they also smoke.
  • Radon gas. Surprisingly, this naturally occurring gas is the second cause of lung cancer after tobacco use, being the culprit behind 20,000 new cases in the U.S. every year. Oftentimes, radon exposure occurs at home, as dangerous radon levels were found in 1 in 15 American houses by EPA. Because radon gas is odorless and invisible, the only way to know whether the concentration in your home exceeds the safe limit is periodical testing.

This November, non-profit cancer organizations such as the Lung Cancer Alliance and LUNGevity Foundation will be encouraging people to spread awareness of the disease and support lung cancer research by making a donation, regardless of their budget. If you would also like to participate in Lung Cancer Awareness Month, there are many ways you can do it, such as:

  • printing one of the lung cancer fact signs available on LUNGevity Foundation's website, taking a photo of you holding it, and then posting it on social media to spread eye-opening information about the disease
  • if you are a lung cancer survivor, co-survivor, or caregiver, sharing your story on LUNGevity Foundation's blog or sending it to the Lung Cancer Alliance to be featured as a Survivor Spotlight on their social media
  • attending a Shine a Light on Lung Cancer event nearby, a laudable initiative belonging to the Lung Cancer Alliance, or hosting one yourself, whether independently, as a health care provider, or on behalf of your business
  • donating to one of the numerous non-profit organizations focusing on lung cancer support and research, such as the LUNGevity Foundation, the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer, the Lung Cancer Alliance, or the American Lung Association

Trusted Sources: LUNGevity Foundation and Lung Cancer Alliance

National Stomach Cancer Awareness Month

Since 2010, the eleventh month of the year has been standing for National Stomach Cancer Awareness Month. Every November, the community behind No Stomach For Cancer dedicates their relentless endeavors to increase the visibility of stomach cancer as the fourth most common malignant disease affecting the U.S. population, emphasizing the importance of early detection, funding research, as well as encouraging stomach cancer survivors and caregivers to share their experiences with this terrible disease.

By the end of 2017, approximately 28,000 people in the country will have received a stomach cancer diagnosis, while nearly 11,000 others will have died of this disease. The lifetime risk of developing stomach cancer is 1 in 111, being slightly higher for men, and the average age of diagnosis is 70. Smoking, infection with the H. pylori bacteria, a diet rich in salted and smoked foods, and a low intake of fruits and vegetables are some of the risk factors for stomach cancer. The symptoms of stomach cancer are rather vague - which is why the disease often goes undetected until it reaches advanced stages - and include:

  • abdominal pain
  • indigestion
  • loss of appetite
  • heartburn
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • abdominal swelling
  • unexplained weight loss
  • anemia

If you would like to partake in National Stomach Cancer Awareness Month, you can find plenty of ideas in this regard on No Stomach For Cancer's website, which you can visit by accessing the link below. Anyone is wholeheartedly invited to participate, whether they survived stomach cancer themselves, know someone who did, or just want to show their support.

Trusted Source: No Stomach For Cancer

Carcinoid and NET Awareness Month

As a relatively new term in medicine, carcinoid refers to tumors whose nature is somewhere between malignant and benign. However, since 1907, when it was coined by German physician Siegfried Oberndorfer, the term has gradually been replaced by neuroendocrine tumor. Originating in the cells of the nervous and hormonal systems, neuroendocrine tumors are slow-growing and may affect organs such as the lungs, the stomach, and the pancreas. Similarly to tissue growths which are comprised exclusively of cancerous cells, neuroendocrine tumors can spread to other regions of the body, most frequently to the liver, bones, and the lymphatic system.

Neuroendocrine tumors occur in over 12,000 Americans every year. The most common site on which they develop is the small intestine, with 28.5% of neuroendocrine tumors arising there, and nearly just as many affect the lungs. Other locations of neuroendocrine tumors include:

  • rectum - 14%
  • colon - 7%
  • appendix - 5%
  • stomach - 4%

In 2010, the Governor of New York, David A. Paterson, recognized November as Carcinoid and NET Awareness Month and since then, more and more people find out about this rather obscure but serious health issue every year by virtue of the Carcinoid Cancer Foundation and the International Neuroendocrine Cancer Alliance. Additionally, November 10th was deemed Neuroendocrine Tumor Awareness Day. For ideas on how to get involved, please visit their official websites below.

Trusted Sources: The International Neuroendocrine Cancer Alliance and The Carcinoid Cancer Foundation

Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month

By the end of this year, pancreatic cancer will have been detected in 53,670 people in the U.S. and will have been responsible for the death of 43,090 others. Approximately 3% of Americans who develop a malignant disease have pancreatic cancer, whose timely diagnosis is often problematic due to lack of perceivable symptoms and adequate screening methods. When pancreatic cancer is found after it caused one or multiple distant metastases, the 5-year survival rate is only 2%. If, however, the disease is caught early, 27% of patients will survive for 5 years of longer. Tobacco is once again a major risk factor, along with excessive alcohol consumption, being overweight, diabetes, a family history of pancreatic cancer, a high intake of red and processed meat, and H. pylori infection. More than 90% of people who develop pancreatic cancer are over the age of 50.

At the moment, pancreatic cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related death in the U.S. and by 2020, it is expected to become the second. Since November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month, numerous non-profit organizations - including Pancreatic Cancer Action Network and Hirshberg Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research - will intensify their efforts to educate as many people as possible with respect to the risk factors of pancreatic cancer and why early diagnosis is crucial, as well as to raise money for pancreatic cancer research. On their websites, you can find many effective ideas on how you can show your support, such as:

  • wearing purple, which is the official color for pancreatic cancer
  • creating your personal online fundraising page with the support of Pancreatic Cancer Action Network
  • sending a letter to the editor of one of your local newspapers in which you ask them to include a piece of writing on pancreatic cancer in their publication so as to increase the visibility of this insufficiently understood disease
  • donating for pancreatic cancer research, which is instrumental in developing better diagnostic methods and more efficient treatments
  • if you or a loved one was affected by pancreatic cancer, sharing your story to inspire other survivors
  • sharing educational resources concerning pancreatic cancer on social media throughout the month of November to spread awareness

Trusted Sources: Pancreatic Cancer Action Network and Hirshberg Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research

National Family Caregivers Month

There are over 43 million caregivers in the U.S. at the moment, 70% of whom experience significant workplace difficulties as a consequence of their double roles. The median age of people who permanently attend to a child or another adult is 49, whereas 35% of caregivers in the country are over 65, a third of whom in poor health themselves. Caregivers who look after a family member account for 85% of all people who informally care for a person. On average, a family caregiver spends 24.4 hours per week attending to the individual in need of care, while 1 in 4 family caregivers dedicate 41 hours or more per week to such tasks. This is how much time some of the most common caregiving activities generally take up:

  • preparing food, doing the laundry, shopping, housekeeping, transporting the person who is being taken care of to various places, and giving them medication - 13 days per month
  • dressing, walking, grooming, feeding, and bathing them - 6 days per month
  • arranging their medical appointments, researching information on their disease or condition, and managing finances - 13 hours per month

Without a doubt, being a caregiver is unimaginably challenging and exhausting, taking a heavy toll on multiple aspects of one's life, from work to personal relationships. To honor the invaluable work family caregivers tirelessly perform day by day, November was declared National Family Caregivers Month, and non-profit organizations such as Caregiver Action Network and National Alliance for Caregiving are particularly keener on raising awareness during this time of the year. Regardless of whether you care for a family member or are being taken care of, we cordially invite you to show your appreciation to these amazing people by donating to one of the previously mentioned organizations, whose official websites you can find below.

Trusted Sources: Caregiver Action, National Alliance for Caregiving and Family Caregiver Alliance

National Marrow Awareness Month

Plenty of diseases can severely affect marrow, the spongy tissue inside some of our bones which produces over 200 billion new red blood cells daily, including leukemia and lymphoma. Oftentimes, receiving a transplant is the only cure to sufferers, as cancer impairs the healthy functioning of their bone marrow tremendously. Every year, approximately 10,000 Americans are diagnosed with a disease which calls for a bone marrow transplant. Sadly, 70% of those who need one do not have a compatible donor in their family and thereby have to wait months or even years to find a match. Out of all racial groups, African-Americans have the most difficult time coming by a donor - only 66% of them will get a match, as opposed to 93% of Caucasian patients. When it comes to age, people between 18 and 44 are the most needed bone marrow donors.

For National Marrow Awareness Month, we encourage you to become a donor yourself, which may save a cancer patient's life. Donating bone marrow is a low-risk procedure and the only requirements you have to meet are:

  • age between 18 and 60 years old
  • being in good health

Be The Match, a global leader in bone marrow transplantation, has a vast registry of potential donors you can easily join. To become a bone marrow donor, all you have to do is register yourself on their website, which you can access by clicking on the source below. However, keep in mind that only 1 in 430 people will actually have the chance to donate bone marrow, as compatibility is a complex matter. Nevertheless, if you do not meet the donation criteria, there are other ways you can participate in National Marrow Awareness Month, such as:

  • making a financial contribution to The Bone Marrow Foundation
  • distributing educational materials on bone marrow, the diseases which can affect it, and how one can become a donor
  • organizing a bone marrow drive for your community, be it at work or at school
  • sharing informative facts about bone marrow and emphasizing the importance of donating on social media

Trusted Source: Be The Match