April 16, 2018

Lung cancer research receives much needed boost

Lung Foundation Australia pledges $450 000 in research investment

Investment in lung cancer research has received a much needed boost with a pledge of $450 000 from Lung Foundation Australia – Australia’s only national charity dedicated to supporting anyone with a lung disease. The funds were distributed via a series of awards announced at the Australian Lung Cancer Conference in Sydney.

“Lung cancer is out biggest cancer killer, killing one Australian every hour[1]. Yet research funding in this area is negligently low.  This pledge offers hope to the 34 Australians[2]  diagnosed with lung cancer every day that better times may lie ahead:  That by having some of Australia’s best minds working on this disease we might make breakthroughs that eventually lead to a cure,” said Heather Allan, CEO of Lung Foundation Australia, the hosts of the conference.

Lung cancer has one of the lowest survival rates of any cancer in Australia with just 15 per cent of Australians still alive five years after their diagnosis.  Despite being Australia’s biggest cancer killer, it receives less than five cents of every cancer research dollar.

The correlation between funds allocated to cancer research and improved survival rates is well established. The survival rate for both breast and prostate cancer patients has improved dramatically over the past 25 years and now 90 per cent of patients are still alive five years after diagnosis[3].

“It is only through investment in research that we can make the discoveries that revolutionise disease outcomes,” said Ms Allan.

The new funds will finance research into novel therapeutic targets, identifying new treatments and improving quality of care. They come soon after Lung Foundation Australia’s 2017 initiation of seven new lung cancer clinical trials through its Australasian Lung Cancer Trial Group, worth $7.2 million and which will involve over 700 patients over the life of the trials.

The organisation also announced additional funding of $570 000 for broader lung disease research just a few weeks earlier at the Respiratory Research Excellence Awards.

“These awards are of immense importance to the thoracic fraternity,” said Lung Foundation Australia Chair Professor Christine Jenkins. “When we reward people for research proposals and grant applications we are upskilling our research community to better understand the causes and best management of lung disease.”

However Lung Foundation Australia warns that although this achievement deserves celebrating, lung cancer research is still grossly underfunded and far more investment is required.

“Prevention, early detection, equitable access to treatment, research into new treatments – we know what works and we know what’s needed,” said Ms Allan.

“So whilst we’re absolutely thrilled to be able to pledge this funding, the bottom line is that it is not enough. We are calling on government, the corporate sector and philanthropists to commit the kind of investment that reflects the true burden of this disease,” she said.

Lung Cancer Facts

  • Around 12,500 Australians were diagnosed with lung cancer in 2017 – that’s 34 people every day.
  • One Australian dies every hour, making lung cancer the leading cause of cancer death in Australia; more than breast and prostate cancers combined.
  • Lung cancer has one of the lowest survival rates of any cancer in Australia; just 15 percent of Australians are alive five years after their diagnosis.
  • Lung cancer can affect anyone, not just smokers. One in three women diagnosed with lung cancer and one in 10 men have no history of smoking.
  • There is no regular screening test, and symptoms of lung cancer may go unnoticed by those living with the disease.
  • Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is the most common type of lung cancer, accounting for almost nine in 10 cases.

Lung Foundation Australia Awards and Grant Funding

Lung Foundation Australia funds many research concepts that focus on disease and that aim to reduce the burden of lung disease on patients and their families around Australia.

Over the past 26 years, we have directly invested over $15.6 million in research.

Since 2004, an additional $11.6 million of research funding has been generated through our Australasian Lung Cancer Trials Group (ALTG).

In 2017, Lung Foundation Australia increased its level of funding for research awards from $680 000 to over $1 million.

The Lung Foundation has identified the following areas as our research priorities:

  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
  • Lung cancer/mesothelioma
  • Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF)
  • Bronchiectasis
  • Children’s rare lung diseases

Congratulations to the Research Award recipients, to see the details, click here.



[1] http://lungfoundation.com.au/lighting-the-way-to-fund-lung-cancer-research/

[2] http://lungfoundation.com.au/lighting-the-way-to-fund-lung-cancer-research/

[3] Cancer Australia 2014. Cancer Research in Australia: an overview of funding to cancer research projects and research programs in Australia 2006 to 2011, Cancer Australia, Surry Hills, NSW.