World Lung Cancer Day 2019: Campaign descends on Parliament House in Canberra

Campaign for action: David McDonald shares his message at Canberra's Parliament House on World Lung Cancer Day.
Campaign for action: David McDonald shares his message at Canberra's Parliament House on World Lung Cancer Day.

A national lung cancer screening program is a step closer.

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt announced he would write to head of Cancer Australia Professor Dorothy Keefe asking her to conduct the first inquiry into the prospects, process and delivery of a national lung cancer screening program.

Mr Hunt made the announcement on World Lung Cancer Day as a campaign for action on lung cancer took its message to Canberra's Parliament House.

Lung Foundation Australia, together with 12 Australians living under the cloud of lung cancer including David McDonald from Bonny Hills, took the campaign to the federal decision makers on August 1.

Mr McDonald, a Bonny Hills resident and Salt Community Church pastor, said the lung cancer mortality rate was so high because people were diagnosed so late.

"If that can be changed and we can work towards making these changes, that's a wonderful outcome," he said.

Lung cancer has the lowest five-year survival rate of the five most commonly diagnosed cancers at 17 per cent.

The campaign, spearheaded by Lung Foundation Australia, includes a call for an additional 25 lung cancer specialist nurses right away.

Mr McDonald said campaigns like this could make a change and a change would offer increased hope.

"I was encouraged we were able to put a personal face to the statistics and to the data, and it was obvious people were quite moved by the stories in the room," he said.

Twelve video projections encapsulated the diverse but connected experiences of the lung cancer community.

The campaign seeks for the new federal parliament to recognise the gaps in treatment, care and empathy which surround lung cancer and commit to policy interventions.

A Lung Foundation Australia spokesperson said this was a momentous day for Lung Foundation Australia and the lung cancer community.

"For us, there was no other way to commemorate World Lung Cancer Day than continue to push policy makers to make changes in the lung cancer space," the spokesperson said.

"Minister Hunt's commitment to write to Cancer Australia to conduct the first inquiry into the prospects of delivering a national lung cancer screening program is a huge milestone and one which we intend to see through.

"The fact is, over 80 per cent of lung cancer patients are diagnosed with late stage prognosis, therefore potentially missing out on life-changing treatment and care.

"We see this announcement as a catalyst for the change that this community so desperately needs - and a commitment from government that could save lives."

Mr Hunt said about a national screening program: "I believe that we can do this. I want to do this on my watch, in my time, and we will be guided by Cancer Australia."

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