Lung Cancer Stigmas Affect Patients Psychosocially, Lead to Worse Health Outcomes

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Studies show that the social stigma can actually affect a patient’s level of care and lead to worse health outcomes.

It is well known in the oncology community that the stigma associated with lung cancer is something that can affect patients on a psychological level. Studies show that the stigma can actually affect a patient’s level of care and lead to worse health outcomes, according to Jennifer King, senior director of science and research for GO2 Foundation for Lung Cancer.

Patients with lung cancer who feel stigmatized, particularly if they have a history of smoking tobacco products, often hesitate to seek support and speak with loved ones about their disease, according to King. As a result of the stigma and perceived lack of sympathy or support, patients with lung cancer can be more prone to depression and other psychosocial issues.

“It can even impact their level of care,” said King. “Many patients report that they feel less sympathy, that they don’t feel that their level of care is as good because they are a (patient with lung cancer) versus a patient with a different type of cancer.”

At the 2019 American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual (ASCO) Meeting, King discussed this stigma and how it affects patients psychologically and physically. She also spoke about the disparities in care that patients with lung cancer often face when seeking treatment.

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