World news – Lung cancer diagnosis and treatment should be « stigma-free » – VAntage Point


Posted on Thursday, March 18, 2021 @ 2:00 pm March 18, 2021 Posted in Health by VAntage Point Contributor 221 views

Navy veteran James Pantelas said he has had his life as a cancer survivor experienced a serious stigma. When he was diagnosed with metastatic lung cancer 15 years ago, friends and relatives said, « Well, you knew this was coming. »

Although he quit four years before he was diagnosed, Pantelas had been a smoker. After his diagnosis, one of his step-sons was so angry that he did not speak for a number of years. “He thought it was my fault. We’ve cleared that up now, but it’s affecting families. « 

When he was diagnosed, he blamed himself. » I’m not saying that smoking doesn’t cause cancer. It causes many types of cancer. “

Pantelas was exposed to asbestos (which can increase the risk of lung cancer) while serving in the Navy in the 1970s. He also raised pet birds. There is some evidence that bird dander may increase the risk of lung cancer.

Whether a person has multiple risk factors for quitting, has smoked their entire life, or has never smoked, the fact remains, he said, you should be treated with empathy. « 

The idea that someone » gets lung cancer « is not supported by science. According to the American Cancer Society, up to 20% of people in the US who died of lung cancer in 2018 have never smoked.

Some studies have shown that the lifelong risk of lung cancer in current smokers is around 11% and less in women Men is around 14%. Not everyone who smokes develops lung cancer.

The stress of family problems like Pantelas can cause even more health problems. This is how the stress of stigma from health care providers can be relieved.

« I had a doctor say, » If I have a patient who tells me they never smoked and they have lung cancer, all I know is that he’s lying. “This is why empathy and reduced stigma are important.”

Pantelas, who beats odds by surviving an aggressive form of cancer for more than a decade, gives much credit to healthcare providers working to reduce stigma.

Dr. Drew Moghanaki, director of radiation oncology at Atlanta VA Medical Center, is one such provider. Pantelas said Dr. Moghanaki has worked to make his facility a « stigma-free zone ». These efforts, the Navy veteran emphasized, are « excellent. »

Pantelas intends to work with the organizations he works with, the National Lung Cancer Roundtable, the LUNGevity Foundation and the GO2 Foundation for Lung Cancer, who work with The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) is working together to continue working to lower the stigma of lung cancer.

The VHA National Center for Health Promotion and Partnerships (HAP, formerly OCE and CCI), VHA’s partnership experts, has the Partnership with the GO2 Foundation facilitates and welcomes others interested in improving the health and wellbeing of veterans.

Dr. Tracy L. Weistreich is the Nursing Executive for the VHA National Center for Healthcare Advancement and Partnerships.

– VAntage Point Contributors provide insights and perspectives on a variety of veteran issues. If you’d like to contribute a story to VAntage Point, visit to learn how to submit a guest blog.

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