How Meaghan's 5K Works

Meaghan's 5K: The Cause

Most lung cancer is associated with smoking cigarettes, but of those who develop the disease, 10 percent of men and 20 percent of women have never smoked [source: Simbra]. If nonsmoker's lung cancer were a separate disease, it would be among the nine most common fatal cancers in the U.S., killing as many as 24,000 people each year [source: Science Daily].

The causes of nonsmoker's lung cancer are not well understood. The disease may be related to air pollution or secondhand smoke. Radon, a natural radioactive gas that can collect in homes, could also be a factor. Some researchers point toward genetics or hormonal factors that may make women more susceptible [source: Lung Cancer Alliance].

Unfortunately, lung cancer often produces no symptoms until its late stages, when it has already spread to other organs. At that point, treatment is difficult and the patient's chances of recovery are low.

Lung cancer is as deadly now as it was 40 years ago. It's the leading cause of cancer death in U.S., killing one in three cancer patients. That makes it more fatal than the next four deadly cancers combined. To put it into perspective, lung cancer kills three times as many men as prostate cancer and twice as many women as breast cancer [source: Lung Cancer Alliance].

Yet many still assume that lung cancer patients contribute to their own illness. As a result, research on the disease has lagged. In 2009, the three major federal agencies that support medical research allocated $27,480 in research funding for each death from breast cancer. In contrast, they spent only $1,249 per lung cancer death [source: Lung Cancer Alliance].

Research on cures for cancer has been moving ahead in recent years, with better surgical methods and targeted genetic therapies known as smart drugs. In the case of lung cancer, what's lacking is a method of screening that can detect the disease at an early stage. This is the cause that Meaghan's 5K raises money to address.

In April 2008, Meaghan Latone attended the first race named for her. Her story and her dedication inspired hundreds to participate and to give generously to the cause. But for Latone herself, it was too late. She died on Aug. 16, 2008.

The location of Meaghan's 5K has changed twice before coming to its current site. Read on to find out details about the route.