Lung Foundation Australia has marked World Lung Cancer Day today with the release of its 2023 Lung Cancer Scorecard.
The scorecard celebrates wins and highlights where action is still desperately needed.
Lung Foundation Australia CEO Mark Brooke said while the federal government’s commitment to a National Targeted Lung Cancer Screening Program was a significant step forward, there is still much work to be done in equitably recognising lung cancer and lung disease.
The lung cancer screening program will be implemented by mid-2025 for long-term heavy smokers.
“For more than five years, Lung Foundation Australia advocated for a screening program that would help address the inequitable outcomes for Australia’s biggest cancer killer - lung cancer - and while we can finally say we have achieved that goal, our work is far from over,” said Mr Brooke.
“We know the lung cancer screening program will save thousands of lives. If Australians with lung cancer are diagnosed at Stage I, their five-year survival rate nears 70 per cent.
“However, this means we will need to concentrate on investment in Specialist Lung Cancer Nurses (SLCN), and research dollars especially, which are areas where lung cancer is lagging well behind Australia’s other common cancers.
“It’s wonderful that we’ve slightly increased the number of SLCNs to 47 this year, but we know the more investment in these vital services, the greater the benefits and savings on the health care system in the long run – 100 SLCN would reach 44 per cent of lung cancer patients and save 18 million.”
Health minister Mark Butler said, “At-risk Australians will be able to get a lung scan every two years."
“This $264 million investment could save over 4,080 deaths from lung cancer. We are committed to continuing to invest in research to improve health outcomes of all Australians," he said.
Lung Foundation Australia Chair Professor Lucy Morgan said investment in lung health research and new treatments was desperately needed.
“Current funding for lung cancer does not match its burden and is not equitable. Research leads to improved care, treatment and outcomes, with new treatments, including immunotherapies, providing a life-saving solution for patients,” she said.