Some of us, at some point in time, have felt judged negatively by others or discriminated against because of some personal characteristic or behavior. Researchers refer to this as feeling stigmatized, and lung cancer patients report feeling this way more than patients with other types of cancers.
Many individuals with lung cancer fear that others will react to their diagnosis with blame, exclusion, rejection and/or discrimination. Many actually experience this as well. A primary reason is that smoking is so strongly linked to lung cancer.
Blaming the victim
Lung cancer was one of the first diseases to be identified as caused by smoking. Smoking rates have decreased dramatically since the 1960s due to laws to restrict smoking, greater publicity on the many harms of smoking, and a change in public attitudes toward smoking. [more]
A result of these changes may be a “blame-the-victim” attitude toward someone who gets lung cancer. In one study, individuals with lung cancer (92% of whom were smokers) more often agreed with the statement “my behavior contributed to my cancer” compared to people with breast and prostate cancer, which are less strongly linked with smoking. Lung cancer patients were also more likely to agree with the statements:
- “I am ashamed I got my type of cancer,”
- “My family feels ashamed of my type of cancer,” and
- “I am embarrassed to tell people my type of cancer,”
when compared to breast and prostate cancer patients.… Continue reading →