New Radio Campaign Urges Aussies Struggling To Shake A Cough Not To Ignore Symptoms
As Australians shy away from GP visits, experts warn against cough complacency during COVID-19, with fears of a lung cancer catastrophe in the making
• Australian lung cancer experts have reported a 50% decrease in lung cancer referrals from GPs during the pandemic: With the decrease in referrals to specialists during the peak of the pandemic over the last three months, more than 1,000 Australians may now be living with undiagnosed lung conditions such as lung cancer. 
• “It’s just a cold”, “I’m out of shape”, “it’s my allergies playing up”: Aussies urged not to self-diagnose or downplay a persistent, unexplained cough lingering for three weeks or more, or dismiss breathlessness, but instead investigate.
• Ahead of Australia’s peak flu season, Lung Foundation Australia is launching a new radio campaign to spark action: Australians are encouraged to see their GP to investigate any new, unexplained persistent cough to rule out lung cancer or other lung diseases once COVID-19 has been tested for.
THURSDAY, 7 JULY 2020: Lung Foundation Australia is today launching ‘Persistent Cough? Don’t wait. Investigate,’ a new public health awareness campaign which urges Australians not to ignore the symptoms of lung cancer, and other lung diseases, during the current pandemic.
The campaign coincides with new referral data which points to a 50% decrease in lung cancer referrals from GPs between March to April 2020. The new data also reveals that one in two lung cancer and respiratory specialists (47%) are reporting delays in timely referrals for diagnostic procedures.
In 2016, 12,216 cases of lung cancer were diagnosed in Australia with experts concerned of a downturn in diagnosis in early 2020. 
According to Mark Brooke, Chief Executive Officer, Lung Foundation Australia, these alarming new statistics highlight a worrying trend.
“With the drop off seen in referral to specialists during the peak of the pandemic over the last three months, this could mean more than 1,000 Australians may now be living with undiagnosed lung conditions such as lung cancer,,” said Mr Brooke.
“So, whilst it remains vital for all new symptoms to be tested for COVID-19 first and foremost, Lung Foundation Australia is urging Australians not to explain away or dismiss the early warning signs of lung cancer, which is critical to diagnose early. The prognosis for lung cancer drastically worsens the later someone is diagnosed, so any delay matters.
“Please, if you’re experiencing a persistent cough or breathlessness, especially if it is associated with new weight loss or tiredness – which are not typical coronavirus symptoms – you must not delay seeing your doctor.”
Lung cancer has the lowest 5-year survival rate of the five most commonly diagnosed cancers, at just 17%. More than half of Australians (53%) are diagnosed with lung cancer at stage IV, where life expectancy is just 19% after 12 months., If diagnosed early, five year survival increases to up to 91%.
Persistent Cough? Don’t wait. Investigate, is a national radio campaign which will air in all of the major metropolitan centres of Australia, to remind Australians not to be complacent when it comes to a new, unexplained cough.
For the vast majority of us, a new cough will not be a cause for concern. For some, however, it could be a sign of something more serious, or underlying, including lung cancer or lung disease. The campaign calls on Australians to fully understand and investigate the symptoms of lung cancer and
lung disease (those being an unexplained persistent cough, lasting more than three weeks, as well as breathlessness).
Lung cancer is Australia’s biggest cancer killer, taking the lives of more than 9,000 Australians per year.  More than 12,741 people are diagnosed with lung cancer each year.
“In addition to the downturn in new referrals for lung cancer, up to 57% of lung cancer and respiratory specialists have also told us that they are witnessing delays in existing lung cancer patients presenting treatment from March to April compared to the same time last year,” says Professor
Christine Jenkins AM, leading Respiratory Physician and Chair of Lung Foundation Australia.
“For people living with lung cancer, it’s important that they stay in touch with their healthcare team and continue on their treatment plan during this time. For all Australians, it is vital to detect and treat lung cancer and lung disease in the early stages to improve chances of survival.
“Being aware of the early symptoms and having any new symptoms investigated by a GP is critical. GP practices have measures in place to protect patients during this time and telehealth services are
still widely available.”
You can learn more about Persistent Cough? Don’t wait. Investigate, or contact Lung Foundation Australia by visiting the campaign website.
This media release has been distributed by LIFE Agency on behalf of Lung Foundation Australia.
Symptoms of lung cancer or lung disease
- Persistent (more than three weeks), unexplained cough, or changes to an existing cough
- Coughing up blood
- Weight loss
- Chest pain
- Voice hoarseness
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, do not delay in making an appointment with your GP
- Mike Lane, E: Mike@opragency.com.au, M: 0409 666 022
- Danielle Aami, E: Danielle@lungfoundation.com.au, M: 0421 157 860
 IQVIA, Medibus 2020
 Lung Foundation Australia, 2018, ‘Making Lung Cancer a Fair Fight: A Blueprint for Reform’, Available at:
Australian Institute of Health and Wellness, ‘Cancer data in Australia: State and Territory’, Available at:
 Cancer Australia. Relative survival by stage at diagnosis (lung cancer). Available