Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. More Americans die from lung cancer each year than breast, colon and prostate cancers combined.1 Yet, surprisingly, a growing number of studies show that many people with advanced lung cancer never receive cancer care, far more than for any other type of cancer. A recent study found that, among people who did not receive cancer care, half had the most common type of lung cancer.2,3,4
Why is that?
It is not clear what the root causes are for lack of treatment. However, emerging research suggests that specific perceptions of lung cancer such as stigma, blame and hopelessness may be a factor.5 If this is true, people (doctors, patients, caregivers, and the general public) may not realize they have these subconscious biases regarding lung cancer.
To better understand the social psychology of lung cancer, Genentech is partnering with Project Implicit® and the leading lung cancer advocacy organizations to launch The Lung Cancer Project™.
The Lung Cancer Project aims to determine if subconscious biases exist for lung cancer, and if so, to understand why people are biased, how those biases impact lung cancer care and to address misperceptions of lung cancer.
In 2013, initial study results were presented to doctors who treat cancer at the world’s two largest medical meetings on lung cancer: the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting and the World Conference on Lung Cancer. Visit the Results tab to learn more.
As a next step, The Lung Cancer Project is expanding its research in 2014, including an analysis of possible bias in medical students and possible correlation between lung cancer bias and lung cancer treatment rates across America.
We are committed to continuing The Lung Cancer Project so that it can help fundamentally change the way people think about lung cancer.
Please continue to check back for updates and follow @LungProject.
What is the Implicit Association Test?
The foundation of The Lung Cancer Project is a research tool called an Implicit Association Test (IAT) designed to measure perceptions, stereotypes and other hidden biases that may influence judgment and action related to lung cancer. Researchers from The Lung Cancer Project worked closely with Project Implicit to develop this robust research tool with oversight from an Institutional Review Board (IRB), and the test was thoroughly validated before being launched.
IATs were introduced into scientific literature in 1998 by researchers from Project Implicit, a team of scientists from Harvard University, the University of Virginia and the University of Washington, and have since been widely used in the field of social psychology.
To learn more about Project Implicit or the IAT, please visit Project Implicit.
- 1. American Cancer Society. Lung Cancer (Non-Small Cell) Detailed Guide. Accessed May 8, 2013.
- 2. Small AC, Tsao C-K, Moshier EL, et al. Prevalence and Characteristics of Patients with Stage IV Solid Tumors Who Receive No Anticancer Therapy. Poster presented at The American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting on June 4, 2012.
- 3. Earle C, Neumann P, Gelber R, Weinstein M, Weeks J. Impact of Referral Patterns on the Use of Chemotherapy for Lung Cancer. Journal of Clinical Oncology. 2002;20(7): 1786-1792.
- 4. Ramsey D, Howlader N, Etzioni R, Donato B. Chemotherapy Use, Outcomes, and Costs for Older Persons With Advanced Non–Small-Cell Lung Cancer: Evidence From Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results–Medicare. Journal of Clinical Oncology. 2004;22(24): 4971-4978.
- 5. LoConte NK, Else-Quest NM, Eickhoff J, Hyde J, Schiller JH. Assessment of Guilt and Shame in Patients With Non-Small-Cell Lung Cancer Compared With Patients With Breast and Prostate Cancer. Clinical Lung Cancer. 2008;9(3):171-8.