Bonnie J. Addario, founder of the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation, issued the following statement in response to the Nov. 29 Dr. Oz segment on symptoms people worry about most:
“I’m sure you are aware by now that your segment on Friday, Nov. 29 -- ‘The Alarmist Guide To The Symptoms You Worry About Most’ -- caused quite a stir in the lung cancer community. A woman on your show complained about a nagging, persistent cough and read online that it may be a symptom of lung cancer. It IS a symptom of lung cancer. While you did advise her to see a physician if her cough continued for more than two weeks, you mislead your audience when you said, ‘If you don’t smoke you should always feel better about that.’ You then proceeded to calm her fears and said she had post-nasal drip, not lung cancer.
“It is true that smoking is the number one cause of lung cancer, but more and more people every year are being diagnosed who have never smoked a day in their lives. Lung cancer in never-smokers, if it were a cancer by itself, is now the sixth deadliest cancer in the U.S. The American Cancer Society estimates that nearly 24,000 Americans will die of lung cancer in 2013 who never smoked. That is greater than the number of deaths associated with Leukemia, Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, Liver, Ovarian and Bladder cancers. Because there is so little funding for lung cancer research we still don’t know why the number of never-smokers with lung cancer are increasing. Prevention and early diagnosis are extremely challenging as there isn’t a reliable early detection test other than a CT scan.
“You did provide the proper advice to your guest at the end of the segment, but the message heard loudly among the lung cancer community is that never-smokers shouldn’t worry about lung cancer, which sadly today is not the message well respected physicians like you should send.
“In May of 2012 you aired this short but important PSA on your show that ‘Not only smokers get lung cancer.’ We hope you’ll consider revisiting this statement in more detail on an upcoming episode and partnering with us to increase awareness of lung cancer.
“In 2006 I founded the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation, one of the largest and most active philanthropies dedicated to raising awareness and funding for lung cancer research and patient programs, with the ultimate goal of making lung cancer a chronically managed, survivable disease in the next 10 years. Our sister foundation, the Addario Lung Cancer Medical Institute, is launching a ground-breaking study in January called The Genomics of Young Lung Cancer Study, which aims to understand why never-smokers under the age of 40 are getting lung cancer and if they have a unique cancer subtype that could be treated differently. The research is being conducted by (list the institutions) Two patients who plan to enter the study, Ingrid Nunez and Emily Bennett-Taylor, were recently profiled in an article about the study in The Atlantic.
“This timely study offers you a great opportunity to clear up the confusion about smoking and lung cancer, and have a real discussion about the deadliest cancer in the U.S. and the world.
“Thank you in advance for understanding the concerns I am raising, and we look forward to working with you and your producers in 2014 to save lives.”
Bonnie J. Addario
Perry Communications Group
Matt Notley, 916-658-0144