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The Impact of Lung Disease

The burden of lung disease is heavy in Canada. In particular, lung cancer, asthma and COPD exact an enormous human and economic toll. In 2014, lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer death for both men and women, causing more cancer deaths among Canadians than breast, colorectal and prostate cancer combined.

The Economic Cost of Lung Disease

Three major chronic lung diseases cost Canada’s economy $12 billion in 2010, according to an analysis by The Conference Board of Canada. Overall, chronic lung disease accounts for more than 6% of annual health-care costs in Canada, and COPD is the leading cause of hospitalization.1 A large number of Canadians with COPD and asthma also remain undiagnosed. 

And if no further enhancements are made to strategies for dealing with respiratory diseases, the annual economic burden is projected to double by 2030. Policies to further reduce and modify the risk factors for the three diseases—lung cancer, asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease—could reduce future costs substantially. The risk factors specifically associated with chronic lung disease—and therefore those that could have the greatest influence on disease prevalence—are smoking rates, second-hand smoke, and indoor air quality.

Reducing smoking rates, lessening exposure to second-hand smoke, and improving indoor and outdoor air quality would lower the economic burden of these diseases.

The Human Cost of Lung Disease

Beyond the statistics and economic costs, there are many stories of people whose lives have been affected by lung disease. Here are a few stories that tell of the devastating toll that lung disease has taken on their lives.