By Joe Leogue
More than one in four people in Ireland believe that non-smokers who have lung cancer should have their medical treatment prioritized for smokers, according to a survey.
The findings, which mark the beginning of the International Lung Cancer Awareness Month, come as a wife of a man who died of lung cancer, saying society must be less judgmental for those suffering from the disease.
The survey of 1,017 adults performed on behalf of the Marie Keating Foundation's "I'm Lung Cancer" campaign found that 27 percent of the public believe that non-smokers who receive lung cancer should get their treatment priority over those who smoke.
It also found that 17% believe that health insurance providers should not cover lung cancer patients who smoke and 34% of adults agree that lung cancer patients face stigma from the public that other cancer patients do not face.
One in 10 said they think this is acceptable.
Broadcaster Venetia Quick lost his husband Martin to lung cancer earlier this year.
Marie started the Marie Keating Foundation campaign and talked about how stigma and they could feel.
"When someone is diagnosed with cancer, it's a tragedy. No matter what cancer, we make all of our lifestyle choices. Cancer is not one of them.
"When you look after and care about someone you love with lung cancer, it's so hard to hear these words from rinse and them. We need to be less judgmental when someone gets lung cancer.
No one chooses to get cancer, and anyone can get it. "
Liz Yeates, CEO of the Marie Keating Foundation, said more people die of lung cancer every year than any other type of cancer.
"Many people have a picture of who they think a patient with lung cancer is, but this campaign illustrates how many people it can affect. We want to change the conversation and tone around lung cancer from one judgment to one of empathy and support."
The survey showed that 16% of respondents said they are well-informed regarding signs and symptoms of lung cancer compared with 31% who said they are well-informed in breast cancer and 26% in skin cancer.