June 27, 2012

2010 December 22 – Lung Cancer Responsible For One in Five Cancer Deaths

The Australian Lung Foundation is urging all Australians – particularly women – to make their lung health a priority after a shocking new government report revealed the lung cancer death rate in women has increased by 56 per cent in recent years.

The Australian Institute for Health and Welfare’s (AIWH) latest publication ‘Cancer in Australia: an Overview 2010’ reports that overall cancer death rates in Australia are on the decline, however lung cancer still accounts for one in five of all cancer deaths.

The latest figures from the AIHW report show that lung cancer remains Australia’s biggest cancer killer.

“In Australia, lung cancer claims the lives of 20 people every day – that’s more than breast, ovarian and prostate cancer combined,” said William Darbishire, CEO of The Australian Lung Foundation.

‘Cancer in Australia: an Overview 2010’ reports that the number of those diagnosed with prostate cancer rose by 1,828 cases and the diagnosis of bowel cancer increased by 595 cases in 2007.

“We know that routine screening for prostate and bowel cancer has lead to a significant increase in the early detection of these deadly diseases and, consequently, we’ve seen a reduction in their mortality rates.  Similar such screening for lung cancer will save Australian lives.

“Of the 9,703 people diagnosed lung cancer annually, a massive 7,626 will die from this devastating disease.  It has the highest mortality rate of any cancer – just 15 per cent of those diagnosed will see out the next five years,” said Mr Darbishire.

The AIHW report revealed lung cancer kills about 4,715 men and 2,911 women in Australia each year.

The Australian Lung Foundation is urging the Federal Government to make access to screening for lung cancer on par with that of other cancers, such as breast and prostate, in an effort to reduce the death toll.

“Lung cancer’s high mortality rate is primarily due to the fact that it is not being diagnosed early enough.

“We have mammograms for the early detection breast cancer and Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) tests for diagnosing prostate cancer, and, as a result, we have seen a significant drop in the mortality rates of both these cancers. 

“We must now turn our attention to lung cancer and work towards developing effective screening methods that catch this deadly disease as early as possible, long before people develop any symptoms and when treatment, such as surgery, is still an option.

“Due to its vague symptoms and the current screening gap, lung cancer is often not detected until it is well advanced and has spread throughout the body,” he said.

The Australian Lung Foundation is the primary charity in Australia dedicated to defeating lung cancer and strongly urges the Federal Government to join them in the fight against lung cancer by making screening for early detection available to all Australians. 

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Media: To arrange an interview with The Australian Lung Foundation’s CEO, William Darbishire please contact Melissa Pizzato, Marketing and PR Manager, The Australian Lung Foundation on (07) 3251 3646,

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