December 28, 2012

2012 November 13 – Lung cancer kills more people than Breast, Ovarian and Prostate Cancer combined… It’s time for Australia to wise up

Today, the Australian Lung Foundation launches a confronting lung cancer awareness campaign. Every year, lung cancer kills more than 7500 Australians, which is more than 20 people each day. The new campaign aims to highlight the impact of this silent killer, that nobody wants to talk about, and encourages Australians to stand up, use their voice and ‘End the Unspoken’.

End The Unspoken will highlight the extent of lung cancer which is Australia’s biggest cancer killer and kills more people than Breast, Ovarian and Prostate Cancer combined. The Lung Foundation urges Australians to visit the website “” and show their support by sharing the message and putting an end to the silence associated with this disease.

Recent research commissioned by the Global Lung Cancer Coalition found that Australian adults think breast cancer is the biggest cancer killer, followed by skin cancer with a small minority able to rate the cancers in order of their impact. This highlights the misconceptions present throughout Australia. The worldwide study found that most other countries believe lung cancer is the biggest cancer killer.

Tropfest winner and director of End the Unspoken, Jason van Genderen has been personally affected by lung cancer as his father passed away late last year from the disease. “I have seen, first hand, how aggressive this cancer is and I hope ‘End the Unspoken’ can raise awareness about this deadly disease,” said Mr van Genderen.

“One in 16 Australians will develop lung cancer before they’re 85 yet it is a topic which is rarely spoken about. Perhaps this is because of the stigma which is attached to lung cancer?” said Mr van Genderen.

Victoria Taber is a 31 year old lung cancer survivor from Canberra. She has never smoked however a chest x-ray, for a routine medical check before an overseas trip, found a tumour in her left lung. “I never had any symptoms but was diagnosed with lung cancer and have since had my left lung removed and been treated with both chemotherapy and radiation,” says Ms Taber.

The lung cancer survivor believes it is vital that lung cancer awareness is increased and wants people to be aware that lung cancer is not just a smokers’ disease. “I’m living proof that lung cancer doesn’t discriminate – it affects males and females, the old and the young, smokers and non-smokers – and is the most deadly cancer in Australia.  I was so lucky to have been diagnosed early enough so doctors could operate and save my life,” Ms Taber said.

Lung Foundation board member Professor Matthew Peters said the Lung Foundation was impressed by the passion of all involved in this project and hopes that many Australians will now see and understand lung cancer for what it is.  “Cancer of the lung cannot be seen or felt – it is hidden. Symptoms are vague but include persistent cough, coughing up blood, breathlessness, chest pain, fatigue or sudden weight loss. Tobacco remains the highest risk factor for lung cancer however other factors include exposure to asbestos, particulate air pollution and some other occupational triggers,” said Professor Peters.

“End The Unspoken correctly conveys the message that lung cancer is Australia’s biggest cancer killer and that we need your support. It is my hope that the launch of this first lung cancer awareness community service announcement will be a watershed moment and that the community will understand the scope of the problem and the urgent need for resourcing for research and clinical care to be raise to the level of the other common cancers,” said Professor Peters.

“Anyone can check their lung health by completing the Lung Foundation’s lung health checklist on our website,” said Professor Peters.

Jason van Genderen is one of Australia’s short film success stories. Known for creating powerful works with very challenging subject matter, his films have won numerous international awards at festivals such as Tropfest, as well as an Inside Film (IF) Award.

The Australian Lung Foundation aims to raise awareness about lung cancer in November during Lung Health Awareness Month by holding Shine a Light on Lung Cancer vigils around the country. The Lung Foundation has adopted the Shine a Light on Lung Cancer initiative from the Lung Cancer Alliance in the US. Each vigil will help raise the profile of this hidden disease by coming together as a community to give hope and support to people who have been touched by lung cancer. The vigils will take place in Sydney, Brisbane, Canberra, Perth and Hobart on November 17 to coincide with International Lung Cancer Awareness Day.

For more information about Shine A   Light On Lung Cancer vigils, please go or phone 1800 654 301.

To view the ‘Perceptions of Lung Cancer in Australia’ report, commissioned by Ipsos MORI for Global Lung Cancer Coalition, please visit


MEDIA CONFERENCE: The Lung Foundation will be holding a media conference with patients and clinicians from 10.00am EDST time at the Cancer Institute of NSW in Sydney’s Technology Park.

If you would like to attend this event or to arrange an interview with a lung health expert, please contact:

Bridget Dixon Jo Mason-Smith
(07) 3251 3644 or 0413 778 435 (07) 3251 3643 or 0404 510 383



About The Australian Lung Foundation:

The Australian Lung Foundation is the premier organisation for lung health in Australia, providing medical and support group representation nationwide.  It was established in 1990 to reduce the significant and debilitating cost of lung disease and is the leading facilitator of research and professional development in lung disease.  The Australian Lung Foundation offers a national network of patient support groups for people with lung conditions.  Patients are supported with information via, a quarterly health education newsletter, telephone information and toll free support hotline (1800 654 301).

About the Lung Health Checklist:

The Lung Health Checklist allows people to understand their lung health and share the results with their healthcare provider if required.  After completing the Lung Health Checklist, users receive a customised response providing advice on action to be taken for their lung health.