November 17, 2014

Australia to make lung cancer a priority

Today is International Lung Cancer Awareness Day and Lung Foundation Australia is calling for lung cancer to be a priority on the healthcare and research agenda.

A recent Lung Disease in Australia report highlighted the significant impact lung cancer has accounting for 5.5% of the total deaths in Australia each year but it remains an unspoken challenge in our country.1

Lung Foundation Australia CEO Heather Allan said despite the significant impact of lung cancer, a recent audit of cancer research investment revealed only 5% of tumour-specific research funding was spent investigating lung cancer, despite being Australia’s number one cancer killer.3, 4

“Around 8,000 Australians die each year due to lung cancer – that’s more than 20 people a day,” Mrs Allan said.1

“In fact, more than 11,000 Australians are diagnosed with lung cancer each year and this figure is expected to increase by a further 21% by the year 2020,” she said.2

Mrs Allan said mortality rates were high because the disease was generally diagnosed at a late stage.

“The Government and community need to work together to adopt a multifaceted approach to the earlier detection of lung cancer and timely access to treatment,” she said.

“We also need to advocate for more money going into lung cancer research.

“We know that catching lung disease early, especially lung cancer, will lead to better patient outcomes and increased survival in lung cancer patients.”

The five year survival rates for lung cancer remain low at 14.1%, while breast and prostate cancers have high survival rates at 89.4% and 92% respectively. 3

“So for International Lung Cancer Awareness Day, we are shining a light on lung cancer, to get people to start the conversation about their lungs and what each breath means to them,” Mrs Allan said.

Lung Foundation Australia urges the Government and community to shine a light on the inequities that exist for lung cancer patients and their families.

“More funding needs to be allocated to research into lung cancer so that we can identify an evidence-based approach to early detection of lung cancer – and possibly a screening program,” she said.

“That’s why we’re holding shine a light on lung cancer awareness events throughout Australia.

“We encourage people who have a history of smoking, occupational exposure to pollutants, a repetitive cough with phlegm or who are more breathless than others the same age are encouraged to do a simple two minute lung health checklist at or speak with a health professional.”

“We’re encouraging everyone in the community to come together to raise awareness about this hidden disease.”


[1] Australian Bureau of Statistics, May 2013, Causes of Death 2011, via Lung Foundation Australia Lung Disease in Australia,, Accessed: 02/10/2014.

[2]AIHW 2012. Cancer incidence projections, Australia 2011 to 2020. CAN 62. Canberra: AIHW.

[3]Australian Institute of Health and Welfare & Australasian Association of Cancer Registries 2012, Cancer in Australia: an overview, Cancer series no. 74. Cat. no. CAN 70. Canberra: AIHW.

[4] Cancer Australia, 2014, Cancer Research in Australia: an overview of funding to cancer research projects and research programs in Australia 2006 to 2011,, Accessed 13/11/2014.