Data from the Cancer Council Victoria has revealed that five Victorian lives are lost to lung cancer every day.
Latest figures from the Cancer in Victoria: Statistics and Trends report reveal lung cancer as Victoria’s biggest cancer killer, accounting for 18% of all cancer deaths.
Approximately 80 to 90% of these lung cancer deaths are caused by smoking.
The findings come as Quit unveils its latest anti-smoking campaign entitled The Wait, detailing the agonising anxiety of a smoker’s wait for test results.
Executive Director of Quit, Ms Fiona Sharkie said the campaign plugs into the concern many smokers have for their health, especially considering half will die from a smoking-caused disease.
“For smokers, it’s not about if but when their habit will negatively impact their life and health. Their smoking is a ticking time bomb they carry with them all the time,” she said.
“These lung cancer statistics provide a stark reminder of the devastating consequences of what can happen when a smoker leaves it too late to quit.”
“We want to motivate those smokers who see the campaign to quit today and avoid living with the regret that they could have avoided a smoking-caused disease if only they had quit earlier.”
“Although the campaign is unsettling, there is hope. Smokers can avoid being that person in the waiting room. They can take back their future by quitting now.”
Professor David Ball, chair of the Lung Cancer Service at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, said lung cancer was the greatest cause of years of life lost to cancer in this country and the most tragic aspect was that nearly all of the deaths could have been prevented.
“Every week 45 Victorians hear the news they have lung cancer. We see the human faces behind lung cancer statistics, the lives and families interrupted tragically and irreversibly by this disease.”
“With 80 to 90% of lung cancers due to smoking, it doesn’t make sense to me that all this suffering and loss of life could have been avoided by an adjustment in lifestyle.”
Professor Ball said that by the time lung cancer is diagnosed, it is often too late with lung cancer having one of the lowest survival rates of all cancers, approximately 13% at five years.
“There are no nerves to detect pain in the lungs, so cancerous tumours can grow to a large size without causing discomfort. As a result, up to half of all patients are not diagnosed until the cancer has already spread beyond the lung, by which time treatment options are limited,” he said.
To arrange an interview with Fiona Sharkie, contact Quit Media co-ordinator Jessica Craven on 0400 424 559.