Leading Lung Cancer Charities & Organizations

Where you should turn if you're looking for support or wish to lend support

white lung cancer awareness ribbon
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Many people do not realize that lung cancer, not breast cancer, is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in women. And, in the U.S., lung cancer, not prostate cancer, claims the greatest number of men's lives each year. 

Even though lung cancer has been considered a “smoker’s disease” at times, many are unaware that never-smokers can develop lung cancer, too. In fact, the majority of people who develop lung cancer today are non-smokers (either former smokers or never-smokers.)

Yet, despite these facts, lung cancer receives much less funding and support than other cancers. Fortunately, however, it appears that we are on the brink of change; people are beginning to see the changing face of lung cancer as organizations solidify and grow.

Whether you have been diagnosed with lung cancer and are wondering about support or if you are looking for a place to make a difference through your contribution of time, talent, or money, there are many options.

Let’s take a look at some of the larger lung cancer organizations as well as some of the ways in which they differ. You will almost certainly find a “niche” where you can receive help or provide help that will make a difference in your life and the lives of others.

LUNGevity

LUNGevity is a large organization completely devoted to lung cancer. It supports those living with the condition and funds research. Perhaps, though, it is best known as the organization which provides education, support, and connections for those living with lung cancer today.

Annually, LUNGevity hosts a HOPE Summit in Washington, D.C. in which survivors from around the country gather to spend a few days learning more about their disease, being pampered, and developing lifelong friends who are facing a similar struggle. There are also regional summits throughout the year in other parts of the country.

For someone living with lung cancer, seeing the pictures of groups of long term stage 4 lung cancer survivors can resonate more than any words written about the disease.

LUNGevity is a large source of funding for researchers looking for treatments for lung cancer today. For people living with lung cancer, their site is an excellent source of up-to-date information written by professionals, but in language easily understood by anyone.

The Lung Cancer Alliance

The Lung Cancer Alliance provides information and supports people with lung cancer too, but it is also one of the most active cancer organizations in working to address public policy. As a group, many people have joined together to "storm the capital," talking with the key decision makers who are responsible for advocacy and change.

For those who desire to give, the Lung Cancer Alliance provides many ways to "shine the light on lung cancer." If talking to law makers isn't your thing, there are athletic events as well as school and workplace events (even rock climbing events) to raise funding for research. Their mission is to "save lives and advance research by empowering those living with and at risk for lung cancer."

The American Lung Association

The American Lung Association (ALA) supports people with a wide range of lung diseases, but has been more and more active in raising awareness about lung cancer specifically.

(You may be familiar with their Lung Force if you live in a city which has been lit up for lung cancer.)

While the ALA supports all people with lung cancer, they have a niche in uniting women with lung cancer from around the country. Lung cancer in women can differ from general lung cancer in many ways—from the symptoms which are most common to the prognosis to the treatments which might work best.

Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation

The Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation contributes to research and support similar to other organizations, but has a special niche in supporting young people with lung cancer.

Those under the age of 40 can develop lung cancer; it is actually increasing in young, never-smoking women.

Lung cancer in young adults is a unique disease in many ways. People who are young at the time of diagnosis are much more likely to have "targetable mutations" or genetic changes in their tumors for which medications targeting these changes can be used.

Upstage Lung Cancer

A smaller but active lung cancer organization is Upstage Lung Cancer. Headed up by lung cancer survivor Hildy Grossman, this organization is a great example of how anyone can use their talents and special interests to make a difference for those living with and those who will be diagnosed in the future with lung cancer.

If you are looking at ways to aid in the early detection of lung cancer, this may be the organization you choose to support. When lung cancer is caught in the early stages of the disease, it may be curable with surgery. Sadly, roughly half of people are not diagnosed until their cancer has progressed to stage 3B or stage 4—both considered advanced lung cancer.

If everyone who qualified for lung cancer screening had this done, it's thought that the mortality rate from could be reduced by 20 percent in the U.S. At the same time, many people are unaware that this screening is even available. Criteria for lung cancer screening at the present time includes:

  • Being between the ages of 55 and 80
  • Having smoked a total of at least 30 pack-years
  • Being a current smoker or having quit in the past 15 years

People who do not meet these criteria but have other risk factors for lung cancer, such as COPD or asbestos exposure, may wish to talk to their doctor about the possibility of screening as well.

International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC)

The IASLC is a very large international organization focused on every aspect of lung cancer. With yearly international meetings, researchers from around the globe share the latest findings with oncologists worldwide.

In recent years, the IASLC has provided scholarships for patients and advocates to attend these meetings as well—both to learn and to be a voice. Many lung cancer oncologists and researchers have found that hearing the voices and seeing the faces of people living with the condition helps them return to their clinics/labs with renewed passion to make a difference.

Lung Cancer Foundation of America

The Lung Cancer Foundation of America supports lung cancer research, though their focus is on "transformative changes." This means that it supports the kind of groundbreaking research which can lead to potential cures in the very near future. 

General Cancer Organizations

There are many cancer organizations which support people with any kind of cancer. Unfortunately, despite lung cancer being the leading cause of cancer-related deaths, it is not usually the lead focus (or even high on the list) for many.

Another thing to keep in mind if you support an organization is that many focus on smoking cessation. Certainly, smoking cessation is an important cause, but it does little for people who are living with lung cancer today. And, as noted, the majority of people diagnosed with lung cancer today are not active smokers; they may have never smoked or once did but quit long before their diagnosis.

CancerCare

One organization which stands out in their efforts to support lung cancer is CancerCare. If you are looking for comprehensive cancer information on a very wide range of topics, CancerCare likely has it.

In addition to regular Connect Education workshops in which you can listen to hourlong talks in the comfort of your home, CancerCare also has an extensive archive of previous workshops ranging from the latest advances in lung cancer treatment to tips for family caregivers. Lung cancer support groups and online cancer communities are also available as well as counseling and financial support.

A Word From Verywell

Whether it is advocating for early detection, influencing public policy, supporting people living with the disease in their daily lives, funding research, or focusing on women or young people with the condition, there are many options to join the fight against lung cancer. 

Yes, there are several organizations which support lung cancer, all with a slightly different emphasis. But, unlike some causes, there is relatively little competition among them as they are all working towards a common goal. Even though a lung cancer organization may have a special niche, each of these foundations works to support survivors and fund research. 

Some people may hesitate to get involved as a volunteer fearing the time commitment. None of these organizations require large commitments of time. Even an hour here or there can make a difference. 

Also, those who are living with the disease can find support, but may wish to explore these foundations as a way to make a difference for others as well. The rigors of cancer treatment usually mean a large time investment is not possible, but the best way to raise awareness is for the public to see people who are coping with the disease today—the true "faces of lung cancer."

Sources:

National Cancer Institute. Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Treatment (PDQ) – Health Professional Version. 3/31/17. 

Pass, Harvey I. Principles and Practice of Lung Cancer: The Official Reference Text of the IASLC. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2010.

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