The following statement can be attributed to Lung Foundation Australia Chief Executive Officer Mark Brooke.
Lung Foundation Australia welcomes the Government’s independent agency’s recommendation to implement a National Lung Cancer Screening Program.
As the peak lung health organisation, Lung Foundation Australia welcomes this recommendation that will help address the inequity in outcomes for Australia’s biggest cancer killer in both men and women – lung cancer.
Following a deferral earlier this year, the Medical Services Advisory Committee (MSAC) have today announced their recommendation for a targeted lung cancer screening program. While this is a positive first step, it is critical that momentum is not lost on this life-saving initiative. We’re calling on the government to fast track a budget investment in site-specific pilots to ensure as many Australian lives are saved as possible.
We thank Federal Minister for Health, the Hon. Mark Butler for his vocal support for the lung cancer community, and for taking the time to meet with lung cancer patients in Canberra in August, and we look forward to his support for implementation of this program in the upcoming budget.
Lung cancer is often diagnosed too late when treatment options are limited, contributing to an extremely low 20% 5-year survival rate. Screening will lead to earlier diagnosis, ultimately providing greater treatment options for patients and a higher likelihood of survival.
The introduction of a screening program will bring lung cancer prevention in line with other leading cancers; bowel, cervical, and breast cancers all have a significantly higher 5-year survival rate at 70%, 74%, and 92% respectively.
The screening program, proposed by Cancer Australia, includes a recommendation for seven mobile screening units which will bring much needed early detection services to regional and remote areas that currently face significant inequity of access.
The Cancer Australia report found that not only will the program save over 12,000 lives in the first 10 years, it will also reduce the financial burden to the health system associated with lung cancer in the long term.
Lung Foundation Australia commends the Federal Government on their commitment to reducing inequities and ensuring improved health outcomes for all Australians, and this must include the 20,000 Australians who are currently living with lung cancer, and the thousands more who are at risk or, or are living with undiagnosed lung cancer. To ensure this MSAC recommendation becomes a reality Lung Foundation Australia are calling on the Government to invest as a matter of urgency in a targeted lung cancer screening program in the upcoming budget.
This decision will be life-changing, and Lung Foundation Australia would like to thank the many clinicians, patients and families for their advocacy efforts, as for many of these amazing Australians a lung cancer screening program comes too late, but they campaigned for the benefit of others. A lung cancer screening program will save lives, but we also reiterate the need for more to be done to support Australian’s living with lung cancer including more Specialist Lung Cancer Nurses and a greater investment in respiratory research.
We look forward to continuing to support the Australian Government in achieving full implementation of the lung cancer screening program, and with more than 4 in 5 Australians supporting this federal investment (82%) we know that this will be welcomed by many Australians.
The announcement comes after the launch of Lung Foundation Australia’s report The Next Breath: Accelerating Lung Cancer Reform in Australia 2022-2025 in Parliament earlier this year, outlining screening as one of the six main recommendations to turn the tide on lung cancer.
View Hon. Mark Butler MP’s statement: https://www.health.gov.au/ministers/the-hon-mark-butler-mp/media/expert-advice-on-lung-cancer-screening-0
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