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Lung Cancer Alliance and Bonnie J Addario Lung Cancer Foundation Ask ABC News To Clarify Jennings Report

April 6, 2010

John Banner, Executive Producer
Thomas Nagorski, Senior Line Producer

ABC World News Tonight with Diane Sawyer
47 West 66th St.  2nd Floor
New York, NY 10023

Dear Mr. Banner and Mr. Nagorski:

Peter Jennings did a great service in going public with his lung cancer diagnosis a few months before he died in 2005. But the professional reporter in Mr. Jennings would have taken a much harder look at lung cancer statistics for the memorial piece on his death from lung cancer five years ago. The rosy scenario you presented is not accurate. Lung cancer mortality has not dropped more than any other cancer and indeed it is rising in women.

The death rate for lung cancer is not “falling faster than for any other cancer,”  as was stated in the report. Among men, the mortality rate for lung cancer has fallen by 11.7% since 1975, but even more for prostate cancer (24%) and colon cancer (37%). In women, the mortality rate for lung cancer has risen 128% since 1965, while the rate for breast cancer has fallen by 25% and colon cancer by 42%.

Over 800,000 people have died of lung cancer since his death in 2005. 

According to prevalence figures for 2006 published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 60% of lung cancer patients are former - not current - smokers and another 20% never smoked at all.  

Smoking rates have dropped and hopefully one day they will drop to zero. Nearly 50% of adult men smoked in the 50’s and that number is now down to 23%. Women peaked in the 1960’s at 33% and the prevalence among women now stands at 17.4%. 

Despite the drop in smoking rates over the past 40 years, the 5-year survival rate is still only 15%. One in every three cancer deaths is due to lung cancer.   

We respectfully request that a more comprehensive report be given to this deadly disease which has been so stigmatized and underfunded. Lung cancer is a public health epidemic that smoking cessation alone will not cure.  As Peter Jennings said in the clip you played for the memorial: “Now do more.”

Laurie Fenton-Ambrose                                  
President & CEO                                              
Lung Cancer Alliance                                           

Bonnie J. Addario
Founder & Chair, President
Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation