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Desparate Housewives support for Lung Cancer!!


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Event helps shed light on lung cancer, stigma

By Susan Abram, Staff Writer

Article Last Updated: 11/10/2007 12:10:19 AM PST

Kathryn Joosten attends the 20th Annual Ribbon Of Hope... Kathryn Joosten jokes that the color of the ribbon for lung-cancer support should be ash gray.

There's the disease's smoking stigma, little awareness about it and not much funding for research.

Besides, the 67-year-old "Desperate Housewives" actress said, there's no other color left for supporting a cause.

But in the end, that's really no laughing matter, Joosten said.

"It seems as though that breast cancer got more of the goodies" in terms of attention and funding, said Joosten, who plays nosy neighbor Karen McCluskey on the ABC hit show.

"When you talk about supporting lung cancer (research), basically you're selling death."

Joosten will help kick off the Free To Breathe Lung Cancer 8K and 5K run Sunday at Lake Balboa Park in Encino. The race serves as the official warm-up for the Los Angeles Marathon in March. But it also will cast awareness on a disease seldom discussed.

More people die from lung cancer than any other type of cancer, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Almost 90,000 men and more than 68,000 women died from lung cancer in 2003, the last year for which data are available, according to the agency. That same year, more than 105,000 men and nearly 85,000 women were diagnosed with the disease.

Joosten was diagnosed with the disease but has been cancer-free for six years. A heavy smoker when she found out she had it, she knew the judgments were


"It's very hard for people to come out of the lung-cancer closet," she said. "I played that game for several years. I was afraid I wasn't going to get hired. It's like people are saying, `How much did she smoke?' It's like they are saying, `You kind of did it to yourself."'

But when Dana Reeve, widow of actor Christopher Reeve, died last year of lung cancer at 44, her death cast a light on nonsmokers and the disease and raised questions about how it could have happened.

"There isn't a lot of awareness about lung cancer in general," said Regina Vidaver, executive director for the National Lung Cancer Partnership. "Women don't know it's a top cancer killer."

In fact, lung-cancer death rates for American women are among the highest in the world, according to the CDC.

"The vast majority of lung cancers are in smokers," said Dr. Jeffrey Kupperman, a volunteer physician with the American Lung Association of California.

"The reason why women are having higher incidents is twofold: More and more women are smoking. The number of women smoking is rising and the number of men who don't are falling."

Kupperman said doctors are not in the habit of thinking about lung disease when it comes to women because it is more associated with men.

"A very small number of lung cancers do develop in nonsmokers," Kupperman said, but there is little information as to why. "Unfortunately, there's no readily available test."

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