One of the hospitals I did my clinicals in back in the mid 1990s had a cancer clinic, and when I had to give breathing treatments to those patients, there was kind of a gloomy feel. Most of those patients knew they had terminal cancer.
Yet, according to this post from Reuters, lung cancers and other cancers, such as colon cancer, are on the decline according to statistics accumulated from the American Cancer Society. The report noted the decline was due to fewer people smoking, better treatment, and early intervention.
The report noted that "Death rates for all cancer types fell by 2 percent a year from 2001 to 2006 among men and 1.5 percent per year from 2002 to 2006 in women."
Likewise, " lung cancer rates have fallen in men by 1.8 percent each year since 1991 and finally started leveling off among women... The overall U.S. death rate from cancer in 2007 was 178.4 per 100,000 people, a 1.3 percent drop from 2006, when the rate was 180.7 per 100,000."
According to one expert from the American Cancer Society, "In that time, mortality rates have decreased by 21 percent among men and by 12 percent among women, due primarily to declines in smoking, better treatments, and earlier detection of cancer."
Once again it should be known that smoking is the #1 cause of lung cancer, with nearly 90% of those getting lung cancer current or former smokers. As you can see from the graphic, lung cancer was nearly non-existent in America until people started smoking. About 20 years after people started smoking, the lung cancer rate climbed.
Thus, as people quit smoking, perhaps some with the help of us RTs and our smoking cessation education, and perhaps due to rising cigarette prices, and laws that continue to phase out cigarettes in public places, the lung cancer rate should continue to decline
In a related article from therecord.com, a study done in Canada showed that people are less sympathetic of people with lung cancer due to the link between smoking and lung cancer. The study showed that 1 in 4 Canadians noted little to no sympathy.
I suppose since smoking is no longer the "in-thing", and no longer "cool," many people who don't smoke (a growing number) believe that those who smoke got what they deserved. What they don't realize is that in the 1950s and 1960s when our parent's generation was growing up, and smoking was cool, there was no wisdom as to the dangers of smoking.
Actually, the wisdom was there, yet the powers that be didn't let this wisdom spread as the tobacco industry was a major profit maker for the American economy. So, in that sense, I think we ought to have sympathy for those with lung cancer as with any other victims of cancer.
One concern by lung cancer experts is that with so little sympathy for lung cancer patients, monies set aside for lung cancer research and treatment won't be as much as for other diseases. Although the American study mentioned above may show Americans are a little more sympathetic to smokers than Canadians, as U.S. lung cancer trends are on the decline.