November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month. Lung Cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the US, and about every 2 and a half minutes, someone learns they have this disease. Many organizations are working together to defeat lung cancer and during the month of November, it’s critical to raise awareness.
Lung cancer is the second most common cancer in men and women and the leading cause of cancer death. The American Cancer Society estimates that 236,740 new cases of lung cancer will be diagnosed in 2022, with 130,180 of those resulting in death. There are two main types of lung cancer: Non-small cell lung cancer (80-85%) and small cell lung cancer (10-15%). Lung Cancer risk factors that through lifestyle choices can be mitigated include smoking tobacco, secondhand smoke, and exposure to radon and asbestos. Other risk factors that contribute to this disease are air pollution, family history of lung cancer, and previous radiation therapy to the lungs.
In today’s blog, we will discuss 6 ways your pharmacy can participate in Lung Cancer Awareness Month.
How to Get Involved at the Pharmacy
1. Get Involved on Social Media
It is estimated that 4.7 billion people around the world use social media, with the average daily time spent using social media being 2 hours and 29 minutes. With its popularity, this offers an opportunity for pharmacies to bring awareness to an even wider audience.
There are many ways social media can be used during this month. Education content can be made to discuss lung cancer, its pathology, and treatment. Social media could also be used to post statistics about the disease or information on resources for someone looking to get more info.
2. Launch a Smoking Cessation Campaign
When someone stops smoking, they see an improvement in their health status, enhanced quality of life, and a reduction in poor outcomes in cardiovascular disease, lung diseases, and cancers. By launching a Smoking Cessation Campaign, you are saving lives.
This campaign can be done through education, ie: educating their patients on the risks associated with smoking. It can also be done via checking in with patients and assisting with medication choices to help them quit. There are many options in terms of the approach that can be taken with a Smoking Cessation Campaign.
3. Make T-Shirts, Wear White Ribbons, or Wear White Clothing
T-shirts are a great way to raise awareness and start a conversation with your customers. By wearing custom shirts, patients can see the pharmacy advocating for lung cancer awareness. Patients may feel more inclined to talk about lung cancer if they can see employees bringing awareness to it.
If making t-shirts is not an option, employees can wear the color white. The color of the awareness ribbon for Lung Cancer Awareness Month is typically white or pearl. To raise awareness, employees can make or purchase a ribbon, wear an awareness pin, or incorporate the color white into their clothing choices.
4. Ask Open Ended Questions
Asking patients open-ended questions regarding risk factors or testing is a great way to get the conversation started. By asking simple questions to your patients, you are leading to a greater understanding of the disease state within your community. You are also saving lives as through your questions and the answers, you can counsel on screening options, smoking cessation, and any other health topic that may fit.
5. Encourage Screenings
Similar to talking to patients, pharmacies can encourage patients to get regular screenings. This can be done via consultations in the pharmacy, signage that is put up for the month, or even encouraging screenings as part of your IVR “on hold” messaging. Yearly lung screenings are recommended for patients who: are 50-80 years old and in fairly good health, currently smoke or have quit in the past 15 years, or have at least a 20-pack-year smoking history.
6. Provide Resources via automated messaging or IVR
Through your messaging systems, you can provide resources to patients. One option is to send out automated messages with links to information from the American Lung Association or the Lung Cancer Research Foundation. This allows patients to access these incredibly helpful websites at their fingertips. Additionally, your IVR can be customized to include messaging regarding this month and bringing awareness to Lung Cancer.