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November is National Lung Cancer Awareness Month. Throughout the month, thousands of people across the country will come together at events focusing on education and awareness of the disease. Originally started as Lung Cancer Awareness Day in 1995, the event has transformed into a month-long series of events about lung cancer.

Whether you have lung cancer yourself, survived the disease, or care for a loved one with lung cancer, here are some ways you can participate:

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National Shine a Light on Lung Cancer Vigil This vigil is the largest nationally, and now internationally, coordinated awareness event for lung cancer. On Tuesday, November 13, volunteers and participants around the globe will participate in community-planned vigils featuring personal stories from survivors, caregivers, and health care professionals, as well as to share information and resources and rally a call to action. Visit www.lungcancer
alliance.org/shinealightonlungcancer/ for more information.

Participate in a community event The National Lung Cancer Partnership Web site lists lung cancer awareness, fundraising, and education events by date and location. Visit www.nationallungcancerpartnership.org/events/community-events to find an event near you.

Run or walk for awareness Organizations such as Free to Breathe host a number of run/walks across the country throughout the year to raise money for lung cancer research and awareness. Visit http://participate.freetobreathe.org/site/TR?fr_id=1570&pg=entry for more details.

Distribute educational materials The National Lung Cancer Partnership offers free information on lung cancer. Print their booklets and help spread the word in November! Several free patient resources can be found at www.nationallungcancerpartnership.org/shop/free-resources.html.

Public service announcement campaigns Hand out flyers that educate about lung cancer in your community. The National Lung Cancer Partnership offers free, printable public service announcements at www.national

Fundraise Host your own event to raise money for lung cancer research and awareness: Have a bake sale, jewelry party, wine tasting, garage sale, or restaurant night (ask a local restaurant to donate a percentage of their sales on a designated night). Be creative!

Proclamations Many lung cancer advocates receive proclamations from local governments declaring November as Lung Cancer Awareness Month. Ask your local leaders to grant a proclamation in your community!

Risk factors for lung cancer

Research has discovered several causes and risk factors for lung cancer. A risk factor is anything that changes the chance of developing a disease. Lung cancer risk factors include

  • Smoking
  • Secondhand smoke from other ­people’s cigarettes
  • Radon gas in the home
  • Substances around home or work, including asbestos, ionizing radiation, and other cancer-causing substances
  • Medical exposure to radiation to the chest
  • Chronic lung disease such as emphysema or chronic bronchitis
  • Increased age

Source: CDC. Lung cancer awareness. http://www.cdc.gov/features/lungcancer/. Accessed September 21, 2012.

Preventive measures

You can take steps to reduce your risk of developing lung cancer.

  • Don’t smoke; and if you do smoke, quit now
  • Avoid secondhand smoke. There is no risk-free level of secondhand smoke exposure.
  • Have your home tested for radon and take corrective actions if high levels are found
  • Avoid unnecessary medical exposure to radiation, such as chest radiography
  • Follow health and safety guidelines in the workplace

Source: CDC. Lung cancer awareness. http://www.cdc.gov/features/lungcancer/. Accessed September 21, 2012.

Make November 15 the first day of a smoke-free life