IT’S the most common cause of cancer deaths with more than 1000 people in the Shoalhaven and Illawarra diagnosed with lung cancer between 2004 to 2008.
A new public education campaign encouraging early detection is aiming to double the chances of surviving the disease which kills an average of seven people a day in NSW.
Called Listen out for lung cancer, the campaign encourages people to know the symptoms which might indicate lung cancer and ask their doctor for a chest X-ray if they experience any of them.
“As a community we need to listen out for lung cancer and not only recognise the signs and symptoms, but take action. If you have had a persistent cough lasting longer than three weeks, had a cough that has changed or coughed up blood it is important you see your GP straight away to ask for a chest X-ray. It could save your life,” said chief cancer officer and chief executive officer of the Cancer Institute NSW, Professor David Currow.
“Once diagnosed, lung cancer has a relatively high mortality rate compared with other cancers and is responsible for 20 per cent of all cancer-related deaths in NSW. In fact, lung cancer takes the lives of more than 2600 people in NSW each year, which is more than breast and prostate cancer combined.”
The Minister for Health and Minister for Medical Research, Jillian Skinner, said the campaign was a key step in overcoming the stigma of lung cancer in the community.
“Lung cancer can happen to anyone, from any background,” Mrs Skinner said.
“Although smoking is the biggest single risk factor, non-smokers can get lung cancer and shouldn’t ignore the symptoms.”
Mrs Skinner said as a result of continued investment in community education, cancer research, improved treatments and early detection, two out of every three people diagnosed now survive cancer for all cancers combined.
“We cannot be complacent. We need to make lung cancer another of our cancer success stories. Together, we can work to raise awareness of the importance of early detection of lung cancer and ultimately save lives,” Mrs Skinner said.