‘Stop asking the wrong question about lung cancer’


A new campaign by Lung Foundation Australia is asking for a fair go for all lung cancer patients, highlighting the stigma they can face

More than a third (35%) of Aussies believe people with lung cancer are their “own worst enemy” who “have only themselves to blame” – a stigma that results in delayed diagnosis, lack of research funding and reluctance to seek help, says Lung Foundation Australia.

To stop stigma in its tracks in 2019, Lung Foundation Australia has today released a new campaign that sees the loved ones of Aussies living with lung cancer plead for support by confronting the severe lack of empathy in the community that plagues Australians living with lung cancer.

The campaign launch is in direct response to public attitudes regarding lung cancer: for almost 40% of Australians, the first question they would ask someone diagnosed with lung cancer – without first expressing concern – is whether they smoked.

And while approximately one fifth (21% per cent) of those living with lung cancer are lifelong non-smokers, almost 90% of Australians believe smoking is the only lung cancer risk factor despite other proven links including genetics, pollution and occupational exposure.

“Whether anyone living with lung cancer smoked or not, they deserve support, not our judgement,” says Lung Foundation Australia.

Lung Foundation Australia is taking this opportunity to remind everyone that their judgement not only hurts Australians living with lung cancer and their loved ones, but impacts their quality of life at a time when many are vulnerable, explains Mark Brooke, Chief Executive Officer, Lung Foundation Australia.

“We’d like to hope that many Australians do not fully realise just how far-reaching the impact of their stigma can be; it results in delayed diagnoses, access to treatment, and a lack of research funding,” says Mr Brooke.

We also know it makes people living with lung cancer reluctant to seek help and, distressingly, four times more likely to suicide than the general population.

“Nobody deserves to have cancer, regardless of what type. Everyone deserves care, treatment, and support. In 2019, if we choose to suspend our judgement, and each do what we can to better support those living with lung cancer, we really can improve lives.

“Please ditch the stigma and be somebody who cares,” continues Mr Brooke.

“Over 12,000 Australians are currently living with lung cancer. They, and their loved ones, deserve a fair go.

“The Australian government needs to fully commit to a review of lung cancer research investment which lags behind other cancers, despite lung cancer having the poorest survivability statistics,” says Mr Brooke.

The campaign comes off the back of the high-profile burden of lung cancer report launched in October 2018 in Parliament House, Canberra, by Lung Foundation Australia, in collaboration with PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

Among a number of recommendations for Government to improve the outcomes for Australians living with lung cancer, the report singled out the need for better psychosocial support across the country.

It also revealed that approximately half of people living with lung cancer have distress, anxiety and/or depression, with the prevalence of anxiety and depression in those living with lung cancer 29.6% higher than the average of other major cancers.

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