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Wall Street Journal about persistent coughs: please write!


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Dear all:

Ms. Tara Parker-Pope, the Wall Street Journal's regular columnist who addresses readers' questions in the "Health Mailbox" section of the newspaper has recently responded to questions about "persistent coughs". She stated that a persistent cough could be a sign of several more serious illnesses--but did not list lung cancer among them. I'm sure that she simply does not know (as we did not, prior to my late mother-in-law's dx), so I sent off an e-mail (the text of which I have included below).

Please feel free to do the same. The e-mail address is: healthjournal@wsj.com



My e-mail:

Dear Ms. Parker-Pope,

Your article on persistent coughs caught my eye--but I was sorry to see that you did not mention that this is often one of the only symptoms of the leading cause of cancer deaths in this country--lung cancer. *(Please see footnote below--especially the last paragraph.)

A persistent cough is frequently one of the ONLY early symptoms that smokers, formers smokers, and

never-smokers display. All too often it is misdiagnosed and ignored. As the public is not educated that a persistent cough is frequently a symptom of lung cancer, the odds of diagnosis in the early stages are extremely low.

The WSJ has had articles in the past year or so

highlighting the alarming increase of lung cancer. I applaud this. Without knowing that a persistent cough is a symptom that needs to be thoroughly investigated, though, countless individuals will only learn that they have the disease AFTER it has progressed to stages III or IV.

My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer shortly

before my late mother-in-law was diagnosed with lung

cancer. While caring for two very sick individuals, I did a great deal of research. I could not help but be struck at how much information there was about breast cancer and how little there was about lung cancer--even though lung cancer affects and kills so

many more people each year.

In sum, like most of the country (and a great portion

of the medical community)--we were completely unaware

that a persistent cough (even in a never-smoker) is

sometimes a sign of lung cancer. The reason that lung

cancer is the leading cause of all cancer deaths in

the country is because diagnosis usually occurs once

the disease is already in its later stages. A tiny,

little bit of education could save countless lives.

Please, please alert your readers so that some of them may catch the disease earlier.

Thank you so much for your help.


Melinda Carley

* More people die each year from lung cancer than from breast, prostate, and colon cancer combined. Lung cancer kills more men each year than prostate cancer. Lung cancer kills more women each year than breast cancer.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in

the U.S. among both women and men. In the average more than 170,000 Americans die from lung cancer.

Approximately 85% of lung cancer diagnoses are not

found until in late stage. If diagnosed early,

research estimates that as many as 80% could achieve

5-year survival or longer.

-Sources: American Cancer Society

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