2009 Jan 19 – Lung Foundation and Lance Armstrong
Lung Foundation and Lance Armstrong – Focus on early detection and support
The Australian Lung Foundation admires and supports Lance Armstrong’s efforts to highlight issues for patients with cancer and welcomes the launch of LiveStrong (Lance Armstrong Foundation. Lung cancer is the commonest life-threatening cancer in Australia and the leading cause of cancer death in both men and women with 20 deaths a day or more than 7,000 deaths per year.
‘The Lung Foundation hopes that Lance’s call to action will focus Governments on effective change that leads to prevention of lung cancer, better treatment and improved patient support to ensure that every aspect of the lung cancer problem is addressed,’ said Mr Darbishire, Chief Executive Officer of The Australian Lung Foundation.
‘The Lung Foundation has directly supported research into the earlier detection of lung cancer and improvement in cancer treatments. However, we also look to Governments to act to increase targeted funding for lung cancer research. This is essential to increase research capacity in lung cancer and to encourage the best and brightest young cancer researchers to devote their time and skill to this critical problem in our community,’ Mr Darbishire said.
Professor Matthew Peters, Head of Thoracic Medicine at Concord Hospital in Sydney and Chairman of the Global Lung Cancer Coalition said that, on current projections, lung cancer will be the dominant cause of cancer death in Australia for the next 30 years unless treatment improvements are achieved similar to those recently seen with breast cancer and other cancers.
‘No one deserves lung cancer. All elements of blame and stigma must be eliminated and every lung cancer patient should have access to support on their lung cancer journey from a trained lung cancer nurse,’ he said.
Currently, there is a very small number of specialist Lung Cancer Nurses limited to a small number of centres in large cities. In addition to supporting doctors in recognising and addressing the physical impact of lung cancer, their role is to provide support and reassurance to help patients through the cancer treatment that is optimal for their own case.
‘The Lung Foundation strongly supports the role of lung cancer nurses as evidenced by the Lung Foundation Nurse Education day held in conjunction with the 2008 Australian Lung Cancer Conference last August where 60 nurses were educated by peers and medical experts. Feedback was conclusively positive and we will continue to be active in this area while we encourage all Governments to fund extra positions,’ Mr Darbishire said.
Professor Peters said that determining better treatment for each person through genetic analysis of their tumour is edging closer every day. However, to deliver this benefit, genetic tests must be affordable and the system for approval and subsidy of lung cancer treatments may have to be reviewed.
‘It is in the overwhelming interest of the publicly funded PBS to ensure that patients who do receive expensive treatments are those most likely to benefit,’ he said.
At present, patients may have to pay $1,000 or more for limited genetic testing of their cancer and there is no Medicare subsidy for these tests. It is possible to perform genetic tests that will indicate which patients are most likely to benefit from chemotherapy after surgery – also those for whom chemotherapy has no advantage (and therefore offers only expense, inconvenience and side-effects).
Australian Lung Foundation www.lungfoundation.com.au
Global Lung Cancer Coalition www.lungcancercoalition.org
For information, past and current Australian Lung Foundation activities and initiatives in lung cancer include:
1. Establishment of a Lung Cancer Consultative Group – that brings together key representatives of all the medical disciplines involved in lung cancer care, to discuss and implement strategies designed to improve lung cancer outcomes
a. Australian Lung cancer Trials Group – this is designed to facilitate and support clinical treatment improvements
2. Bi-annual Australian Lung Cancer Conference
3. The Kylie Johnston Lung Cancer Network
4. Australian Lung Foundation Lung Cancer Nurses’ Education Day