Greeks exhibit an alarmingly low level of awareness when it comes to lung cancer, according to a recent study conducted by the Greek non-profit social organization Fairlife in collaboration with the Global Lung Cancer Coalition (GLCC).

The study, which also highlights the stigma associated with the disease due to its strong correlation with smoking, revealed that the overwhelming majority of respondents favored the adoption of a national program aimed at pre-symptomatic early diagnosis of the disease.

Fairlife, which is a member of the Global Lung Cancer Coalition (GLCC), is a Greek non-profit organization focused exclusively on the study of lung cancer and its impact on society.

Stigma Surrounding Lung Cancer Among Patients Due to Smoking

Fairlife presented the results of the GLCC’s 2023 research regarding public attitudes towards lung cancer, awareness levels of its symptoms, and opinions on the necessity of incorporating a pre-symptomatic screening program into the country’s National Health System.

The Global Lung Cancer Coalition (GLCC) study is carried out in 29 countries, and this is the first time Greece participated in the research, which includes over 1,000 participants from each country.

According to the results, 37.8 percent of those questioned in Greece claimed they were unaware of any lung-cancer-related symptoms. Men, young individuals (18-24 years old), and those over 55 years old were the least informed. Former or current smokers who took part in the survey said they were marginally more informed compared to those who had never smoked.

Stigma and Public Opinion

A disturbing finding highlighted in the survey was that 40.5 percent of the public admitted to having little sympathy for lung cancer patients compared to those with other forms of cancer. This sentiment was more likely among men, young individuals (18-24 years old), and those who had never smoked.

Regarding the incorporation of a pre-symptomatic screening program in the National Health System, 91.3 percent of respondents agreed on its necessity. This viewpoint appeared more strongly supported by women and older individuals.

Current or former smokers appeared to be marginally more supportive of establishing a national screening program compared to those who had never smoked. Notably, this percentage is among the highest recorded among the countries examined.

Lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in Greece. Survival rates have marginally improved over the decades compared to other common cancers (breast, colorectal, and prostate). The five-year survival rate barely reaches 20 percent, primarily because the majority of patients (about 83 percent) display symptoms only when the disease is in its advanced stages.