Are you biased when it comes to lung cancer?

The Lung Cancer Project is a research study that examines the "social psychology" of lung cancer through an Implicit Association test. The test gives the user rapid-fire tasks of associating images and words with either lung cancer or breast cancer. If you subconsciously relate a certain image or word, such as "hopeless," to lung cancer, you will probably complete the task faster than when the word is associated with breast cancer. The test takes about 10 minutes to complete, and gives you your results at the end. The rapid tasks in the survey make it easier for any slight hesitation to be picked up, which will then be calculated into the final score at the end. Of the 1778 responses, researchers found that on average, participants responded faster when lung cancer and a negative word were associated than with breast cancer. Joan Schiller, a lung cancer specialist at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, explained the purpose behind the study: "The idea was to quantify and improve upon what we've felt in the past ... that lung cancer patients suffer from guilt, stigma and shame. There hasn't been a way to quantify it or prove that it's been an issue," she says. "This project has led to a benchmark to measure it." With the results of the study, which were published at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in early June (Poster #8017), Schiller and others hope to be able to measure progress in the coming years about people's perception of lung cancer. She also hopes that it will be the first step in learning why a majority of individuals diagnosed with advanced lung cancer never receive treatment. Is it due to the perception that treatment is futile? Or that they deserved the disease? Guilt? The project is the result of a partnership with Genentech, a pharmaceutical company that manufacturers a lung cancer treatment, Project Implicit and various non-profit lung cancer organizations, including the Lung Cancer Alliance and the National Lung Cancer Partnership. Schiller has been instrumental in promoting lung cancer awareness and research in her role of lung cancer researcher, but also as president and founder of the National Lung Cancer Partnership. "When I went into the field, there weren't a lot of people going into lung cancer for exactly the same reason – it wasn't popular because of the lack of treatments, research and funding."Take the test and ponder your results. The full results can be viewed in the following infographic.