Actress Valerie Harper and American Lung Association join forces against lung cancer

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Dr. Sapna Parikh talks with the actress who battles the disease (WABC)

Valerie Harper has teamed up with the American Lung Association to launch the lung force campaign.

"Women need to know about lung cancer what a deadly disease it is," says the actress.

Harper was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2009 and recently learned it spread to the lining of her brain.

"I have bad news for everyone -if you have lungs you're in line for lung cancer- you are," she warns.

Lung cancer is the leading cancer killer for men and women--more than 100,000 women in the U.S. will be diagnosed this year and less than half of them will be alive next year.

Dr. Andrea Mckee, American Lung Association advisor shares the surprising statistic:
"Lung cancer kills more women than breast, ovarian and uterine cancer combined."

A recent survey by the American Lung Association found that only 1% of the women knew that lung cancer is the deadliest.

You can turn your facebook and twitter page turquoise and through the lung force website WWW.LUNGFORCE.ORG you can sign the pledge and share your lung cancer story.

Singer Kellie Pickler has joined the movement. She lost her grandmother to lung cancer.

"I hope being a apart of this movement will just raise awareness and make this on women's radar," says Pickler.

The sponser of the event, CVS pharmacies recently stopped selling cigarettes. Most people assume if you have lung cancer you're a heavy smoker-- but not always.

It's true that smoking raises the risk --but it's estimated that about 10 to 15% of lung cancer patients never smoked.

Environmental factors and genetics may play a role. Harper and her mother battled lung cancer, she says neither of them smoked, but there's a stigma.

"You say oh did they smoke that's a prejudice in itself," she continues, "I never smoked."

On the horizon are better methods of detection and treatment.

Dr. Mckee says the key to beating the disease is more resources.

"In order to implement early detection and further understand new genetic mutations that allow us to treat late stage lung cancer it all comes down to resources."

Harper recently testified on Capitol Hill asking for more resources and funding. She's proof that it works.

"Every 2 or 3 months I get a brain scan and it get less and less - it's an improvement."

Related Topics:
healthlung cancerAmerican Lung Associationcancer deathvalerie harpersapna parikh
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