Australia’s progress against lung cancer
To mark World Cancer Day, 4 February 2021, we’re releasing our updated Lung Cancer Scorecard revealing the progress made to bring healthcare services and support for Australians experiencing lung cancer in line with other cancer services.
Patient-led advocacy has prompted progress and promises, but government commitment and action varies across the nation, and overall fails to meet the investment needed to combat Australia’s biggest cancer killer.
Over the past 18 months, our advocacy with and for Australians living with lung cancer has achieved a promise to explore a specialist lung cancer nurse trial in Queensland, listing of lung cancer medicines on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme and a recommendation from Cancer Australia to deliver a targeted national lung cancer screening program.
Yet other key services for lung cancer continue to fall short. Government research investment remains disproportionately low when compared with disease burden, access to specialist nursing care is limited, and non-existent in many places, and it is difficult for patients, families and carers to access tailored and appropriate psychosocial support.
The release of our 2021 Lung Cancer Scorecard, two years on from the release of the first-of-its-kind roadmap, Making Lung Cancer a Fair Fight: A Blueprint for Reform, clearly shows that while significant milestones have been achieved, there is a long road ahead.
With the support of our passionate and dedicated community, including donors, fundraisers, patients, carers, health professionals and other stakeholders, we have helped achieve:
- A recommendation from Cancer Australia to establish a National Lung Cancer Targeted Screening Program. Federal Minister for Health, The Hon Greg Hunt MP, committed to an enquiry at our World Lung Cancer Day event in August 2019. In 2020, Cancer Australia released the screening enquiry report. You can read our response, compiled with the support of clinical and consumer experts, here. We are one step closer to our goal of a dedicated national lung cancer screening program but there remains work to be done.
- A promise from the Queensland Government to explore a specialist lung cancer nurse trial in Queensland. In 2020, the Queensland Government promised to explore a specialist lung cancer nurse trial with Lung Foundation Australia. This is a crucial step to ensuring patients have access to best-practice care. We will work with Queensland, the Federal Government and all States and Territories to expand this trial nationally and ensure lung cancer patients around Australia have the best chance at improved outcomes.
- Increased investment in lung cancer research. In the past two years, we’ve invested $670,000 into dedicated lung cancer research. Through fellowships, PhD scholarships, project grants and grants-in-aid, our multi-million dollar research program supports the best and brightest researchers to make advancements in prevention, early diagnosis, treatment and a potential cure for lung cancer.
Our submission to the 2021-22 Budget calls for the Federal Government to co-fund a specialist lung cancer nurse trial to address the current and emerging needs of Australians diagnosed with lung cancer. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, our nation has an opportunity to strengthen national respiratory expertise and address the disproportionately low number of specialist lung cancer nurses.
In 2021, we will develop a new roadmap for change after receiving funding from the Global Lung Ambition Alliance. An Expert Steering Committee of highly respected health professionals, researchers and people living with lung cancer will support the development of the next lung cancer Blueprint.
Together, we will further examine lung cancer care in Australia and the progress since the development of the first Blueprint, identifying investment priority areas to improve the care and services offered to Australians experiencing lung cancer, their families and carers. A roadmap to deliver specialist cancer nurses, bio marker and mutation testing and improve the mental wellbeing of patients, along with other identified issues, will be developed to guide our work into the future.
Dr Nicole Rankin, Expert Advisory Committee Chair and University of Sydney Senior Research Fellow said these areas are in urgent need of further improvement.
“We have seen promising progress but we will continue the fight for improved access to evidence-based care, and to better meet the psychological, emotional and practical support needs of people living with lung cancer,” she said.
How you can help
We remain committed to advocating for improved access to treatment, care and support for all Australians impacted by lung cancer. This year’s World Cancer Day theme, ‘I Am and I Will’, is all about you and your commitment to act. Never underestimate the power of cooperation and collective action to save lives. Together, we can make lung cancer a fair fight.
- Become an advocate. Submit an expression of interest to join our Your Voice advocacy training program to engage in targeted campaign activities across our portfolio of activities in lung cancer and lung disease.
- Donate to make a difference. Every dollar is vital to supporting our programs so we can continue to advocate for change and invest in life-changing research projects.
- Become a member. Provide much-needed ongoing support by joining our community of health professionals, researchers and patients striving to improve care for the seven million Australians living with lung disease and lung cancer.
Lung Cancer Research Grant
On World Cancer Day we are delighted to announce $30,000 in lung cancer research grants, funded by the Lung Foundation Australia Hope Research Fund. Valued at $10,000 each, these grants have been created in honour of 3 families and special members of our community. Although their journeys have each been unique, their wish is the same: through the power of research all Australians with lung cancer will be diagnosed sooner, receive the best available treatments and live longer.
Grants open 4 February 2021 at 12pm AEDT and close 5pm AEDT 5 March 2021.