Lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer death in Australia. It is often diagnosed late because symptoms can be vague or there may be no symptoms experienced in the early stages of the disease.
The experience of patients with lung cancer is one of a forgotten disease characterised by low public awareness and negative stereotypes. This contributes to delays in diagnosis, lack of support systems and inequitable access to best practice and new treatment approaches.
In particular, stigma towards people with lung cancer plays a major role in delays to diagnosis. Health professionals need to be aware of the symptoms of lung disease and the increasing trend of people presenting both with and without smoking as a risk factor. Making assumptions about a diagnosis based only on the presence of risk factors, such as smoking, causes delays in diagnosis and can affect patient health and well-being.
Lung Foundation Australia provides a range of evidence-based resources and initiatives to support early diagnosis and best practice treatment and management of lung cancer.