Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the country. It has the lowest five-year relative survival rate (17 per cent) when compared to the other top five most commonly diagnosed cancers, which have survival rates between 69 and 95 per cent. Further, it is the fifth most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australia and it is estimated that there will be approximately 12,740 people newly diagnosed in 2018. This number is projected to reach almost 160,000 new diagnoses over the next 10 years to 2028.
This report has been prepared to raise awareness about the burden of lung cancer in Australia and the particular challenges faced by people diagnosed with the condition. The report outlines feasible and pragmatic recommendations that will lead to better outcomes for people living with lung cancer.
There are considerable challenges specifically faced by people living with lung cancer that impact their overall health outcomes and quality of life. The following three themes were identified through stakeholder consultations as being the most important challenges faced by Australians with lung cancer, and are explored in more detail in this report:
- equity of access to diagnostics and care
- stigma experienced by patients
- the need for psychosocial support
Better access to certain cancer services impact health outcomes for people. The following were identified as high priority and challenging areas for people living with lung cancer:
- sufficient access to lung cancer clinical nurse specialists (CNS) and/or lung cancer care coordinators, to help better navigate the health system and assist in access to care, treatment and support
- timely access to goals which impact people’s prognosis
- increased referrals to multidisciplinary teams (MDTs) and specialist care, which remain clinical best practice and improve patient outcomes.
In addition, these challenges are amplified for people living with lung cancer who live in regional and remote areas. Research has found that a disproportionately high number (almost half) of Australians diagnosed with advanced lung cancer (Stage III-IV) live in regional and remote areas. Delays in diagnosis and access to care are evident for people living with lung cancer and result in poorer outcomes.