World Lung Cancer Day

August 01, 2021


World Lung Cancer Day

August 01, 2021

Dr Mary Bussell

Lead, The Vaccine Ecosystem Initiative | Associate, Health policy

Mary is the Lead of The Vaccine Ecosystem Initiative and Associate in the Health Policy practice at Economist Impact. Mary’s career has led to a comprehensive knowledge of the health ecosystem with expertise in building and managing relationships with key stakeholders locally, nationally and globally. She received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Georgetown University in Washington, DC and maintains her US licence as a Registered Nurse. She obtained a Master’s in Public Health with a focus on health policy and comparative health systems; a second Master’s focused on political science and comparative politics; and, a Doctorate in medical innovation, technology development and the role of public-private partnerships from Columbia University in New York City. Mary has experience in health policy, communications and public affairs domestically and globally in addition to experience in the pharmaceutical industry and pharmaceutical marketing and advertising in New York. Mary has worked at the World Health Organization and The Commonwealth Fund, concentrating on women’s health and related socioeconomic issues, and as a public health strategist and senior scientist for the UK’s Health Protection Agency (now the Health Security Agency) with an emphasis on infectious disease and pandemic preparedness. Mary has held professorships in public health at the University of Surrey, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Medical Center, and the State University of New York College of Old Westbury. 


Recent contributions


World Lung Cancer Day reminds us that lung cancer must be at the top of Europe's agenda every day.

Worldwide, lung cancer kills more people than breast, colon and prostate cancer combined.1 For many years, lung cancer was viewed as a man’s disease: indeed, at one time, twice as many men were diagnosed. We must retire these outdated assumptions: today, in women, lung cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer and the second leading killer. Irrespective of gender, tobacco use is the main culprit, yet approximately 20% of women diagnosed with lung cancer have never smoked.2 We must recognise lung cancer as one that impacts the lives of men and women while recognising the specific gendered differences. Attention must be focused on this disease for more than a single day each August, or a month, Lung Cancer Awareness Month, each November.

Today, we are breathing in a new era for lung cancer. Since 2015, progress in this field has outweighed all of the advances of the previous half century.3 Late diagnosis, poor access to treatment and a mixture of fatalism and stigma has meant that outcomes are often poor for people with lung cancer. With new treatment options available, now is the time to review the current picture of disease burden, address unmet needs and improve the management of lung cancer.

Lung cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer and the leading cause of cancer mortality worldwide.4 In January 2020, the American Cancer Society announced that lung cancer mortality in the United States has fallen between 4-5% annually since 2013.5 Despite this progress, more needs to be accomplished. The European Commission along with the European Parliament are committed to developing a renewed approach to addressing cancer: lung cancer should be at the core of this revitalised approach. Awareness needs to be improved to ensure that people at high-risk for lung cancer are identified, properly screened and obtain necessary diagnostic testing to identify the disease as early as possible. 

There is neither time nor room for complacency: we are in a race against time. Lung cancer will not wait.


[2] Vavalà T, Rigney M, Reale ML, et al. An examination of two dichotomies: women with lung cancer and living with lung cancer as a chronic disease. Respirology. 2020: 25:24-36.
[3] Nyberg K. IASLC News, Global Edition. Evolving standards of care: stunning progress achieved in lung cancer treatment over the last decade; 5(2). April 2020.
[4] American Cancer Society. The Cancer Atlas: Lung Cancer [Internet]. Available from:
[5] American Cancer Society. Facts & Figures [Internet]. Available from:

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