WASHINGTON, March 14, 2018 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The American Lung Association and LUNG FORCE Heroes – those personally impacted by lung cancer – from all 50 states have come together today at the U.S. Capitol to urge Congress to support policies that will help save lives during the American Lung Association's third annual LUNG FORCE Advocacy Day. These lung cancer advocates are sharing their stories and pushing for increased funding at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that will result in better treatments and improved methods of early detection for lung cancer, as well as healthcare protections so that people with or at risk for lung cancer can get the care they need.
"Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths, and we're bringing our message to Congress today about how important quality and affordable healthcare is, especially for people with or at risk for lung cancer," said American Lung Association National President and CEO Harold P. Wimmer. "That's why we're gathering with patients from across the nation whose stories and experiences make clear that protections for people with pre-existing conditions as well as improved methods of early detection for lung cancer are critical."
LUNG FORCE Heroes from each state will share today how lung cancer has affected their lives. Every story is unique, yet each story highlights the importance of investments in research funding and healthcare coverage to ensure that patients can access new lifesaving treatments. In support of lung cancer research, lung cancer advocates are also asking members of Congress to support $38.1 billion for the National Institutes of Health in fiscal year 2019.
"Lung cancer research will help save lives, yet to truly see change, patients will need to be able to access research breakthroughs. Adequate, accessible and affordable healthcare is key," Wimmer said. "We want to make sure Congress understands why healthcare matters for lung cancer survivors and their caregivers, and to ask them to act to protect patients with pre-existing conditions, including lung cancer."
LUNG FORCE Advocacy Day is a rallying cry for the American Lung Association, which in 2014 named defeating lung cancer a strategic imperative of the organization and also launched the strategic cause initiative LUNG FORCE to unite the nation in the fight against lung cancer. According to the Lung Association, one reason lung cancer is so deadly is that most cases are not diagnosed until later stages when the disease is less curable, underscoring the need for more research funding to improve early detection methods and treatment options.
"Lung cancer was never on my radar, and for the hundreds of thousands diagnosed each year, it's probably not on their minds either," said Kathy Leiser, a LUNG FORCE Hero from Nashville attending Advocacy Day. "I feel so fortunate to be standing here today, cancer-free, and that's only because my lung cancer was diagnosed early, and that I was able to access the treatment that saved my life.
"I'm proud to stand alongside other patients from across the country to share my story, and to advocate for those who are facing lung cancer, or will," Leiser said. "We need to ensure that all Americans can have quality and affordable healthcare and that as a nation we continue to fund research for better treatments and methods of early diagnosis."
It is estimated that in 2018, 234,030 Americans will be diagnosed with lung cancer, and only 16 percent are diagnosed at an early stage when it is most curable. New methods of early detection are essential, as survival rates are five times higher when lung cancer is detected early.
LUNG FORCE Heroes will be sharing this, as well as more findings from the recently released 2018 LUNG FORCE "State of Lung Cancer" report from the American Lung Association, detailing the impact of lung cancer by state.
The American Lung Association and its LUNG FORCE initiative encourage everyone to advocate for lung cancer research and quality, affordable healthcare with members of Congress in Washington, D.C. Visit LUNGFORCE.org to learn more about LUNG FORCE and how to contact members of Congress.
About the American Lung Association
The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease, through research, education and advocacy. The work of the American Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; to improve the air we breathe; to reduce the burden of lung disease on individuals and their families; and to eliminate tobacco use and tobacco-related diseases. For more information about the American Lung Association, a holder of the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Guide Seal, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872) or visit: Lung.org.
About LUNG FORCE
LUNG FORCE is a new national movement led by the American Lung Association to unite women against lung cancer, the #1 cancer killer of women. LUNG FORCE has three priorities: 1) Make lung cancer a cause that people care about – and act on; 2) Educate and empower patients and healthcare providers and 3) Raise critical funds for lung cancer research. The American Lung Association's LUNG FORCE is nationally presented by CVS Health. Find out more at LUNGFORCE.org.
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SOURCE American Lung Association