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Australia lagging in lung cancer screening: experts

Australia lagging in lung cancer screening: experts - Featured Image

Lung cancer kills more Australians than breast and colon cancer combined, however we are lagging behind other countries in researching and implementing targeted screening, experts argue.

In an article published today in the Medical Journal of Australia, consultant physician at the Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital in Perth Dr Fraser Brims and his coauthors write that the majority of lung cancer deaths are occurring in former smokers.

“In Australia, there are about 2 200 000 current or former smokers between the ages of 55 and 74 years who may be eligible for lung cancer screening,” they write.

Related: MJA – Should we screen for lung cancer in Australia?

In the US, low-dose chest computed tomography (CT) has been shown to reduce lung cancer mortality by 20%.

They said combined with smoking cessation initiatives and validated risk-prediction screening methods, targeted screenings can be cost-effective.

“The costs of treating advanced lung cancer are greater than the costs of treating the early stage disease”, Brims and his colleagues write.

They believe that in the absence of a coordinated approach, ad-hoc screening should be strongly discouraged.

Related: Screening needs ‘balance’

“The challenge facing Australia is the translation of international results into sustainable, cost-effective clinical practice, ensuring that the desired benefit outweighs the known harms, at the same time as enhancing tobacco control policies”, they conclude.

Read the full article in the Medical Journal of Australia.

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