We are using November’s Lung Cancer Awareness Month to remind the WA community of the symptoms of lung cancer and what to do if they notice any unusual changes to their body.
Our Cancer Prevention and Research Director, Melissa Ledger, said many people don’t realise a cough which lasts for three weeks or more needs to be investigated.
“If you have a long standing cough that worsens or changes for three weeks or more, it needs to be investigated,” Ms Ledger said.
“If you have repeated chest infections, you notice you are becoming more short of breath or lacking energy, and have had any of these symptoms for more than four weeks, they should be investigated too.
“If you cough up blood – even once – it’s really important to visit your doctor, clinic nurse or Aboriginal health worker right away to find out the cause.
“It doesn’t mean you’ve got cancer, often it turns out to be something less serious, though,” she says.
Lung cancer remains the fourth most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australia and the most common cause of cancer death according to Australian Institute of Health and Welfare data.
Smoking is linked to as many as 80 per cent of lung cancers with current smokers almost nine times more likely to develop lung cancer than people who have never smoked.
Other known causes of lung cancer include occupational carcinogens such as silica dust and diesel engine exhaust and if a person has a family history of lung cancer or previous lung disease their risk of lung cancer is also increased.
“Remember, the chances of successful treatment are much higher when cancer is found early,” Ms Ledger said.
Statistics provided by WA Department of Health
- In 2017, of all cancer types, lung cancer had the 4th highest incidence for males and females, and the highest number of deaths for males and females.
- In 2017, after you take into account the increase in population and ageing population, males reported the lowest lung cancer incidence rate since the Western Australia Cancer Registry collection began in 1982. Males reported an all-time low incidence rate of 48 new cases per 100,000, and 32 deaths per 100,000 people.*
- For females, after you take into account the increase in population and ageing population, the lung cancer incidence and mortality rate has increased. In 2017 there were 31 new cases per 100,000, and the mortality rate was 21 deaths per 100,000 persons.*