Giving Compass' Take:

• Diane Mapes reports that researches have discovered that lung cancer - associated with smoking - carries a stigma that impacts the outcomes of lung cancer patients. 

• How can funders work to break down stigma and improve outcomes for cancer patients? 

• Learn more about dealing with the stigma of lung cancer

When Sherry Stoll* was diagnosed with breast cancer in late 2011, her community rallied around her.

It was an interesting experience for the 53-year-old from Pittsburgh, especially since it wasn’t her first bout with cancer. A year and a half earlier, she was diagnosed with lung cancer.

The response from her community then?  Crickets.

There was definitely a lack of support and sympathy,” said Stoll, a stay-at-home mom who now runs the nonprofit lung cancer advocacy group, We Wish. “My family was there for me, but most people when they heard about it, were like, ‘Wow, that’s really a shame. Did you smoke?’”

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S. Most patients are diagnosed late (symptoms usually don’t present until the cancer is advanced) and screening methods that can detect the disease at earlier, more curable stages have only very recently become available.

Two recent studies found an association between lung cancer stigma and delayed diagnosis and treatment. Another pointed out the profound effect stigma has had on research funding and quality of care, both with regard to physicians’ attitudes toward patients and patients’ attitudes toward themselves. A fourth compared lung cancer stigma with that of four other cancer types.

Read the full article by Diane Mapes about lung cancer from Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.