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Lung cancer screening in Australia: progress or procrastination?

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There is progress internationally with lung cancer screening but far slower headway in Australia

Lung cancer is the fourth leading cause of death and kills more Australians than colon and breast cancer combined.1 It has a 14% 5-year survival rate as most patients present with incurable disease. The number of years of potential life lost to lung cancer in Australia is estimated to be 58 450, similar to that of colorectal and breast cancer combined.1 Primary prevention remains crucial and will reduce future lung cancer deaths, but the majority of lung cancer deaths are now occurring in former smokers who remain at elevated lifetime risk of lung cancer.2

Should Australia adopt lung cancer screening?

Screening with low-dose chest computed tomography (CT) scan has been proven to reduce lung cancer mortality by at least 20%, and screening is now being implemented in the United States. There is no new treatment modality that can reduce lung cancer mortality by this amount. The International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC) recommends the implementation of feasibility screening programs in countries without ongoing lung cancer screening studies.3 These programs should incorporate smoking cessation initiatives, standardised algorithms for the selection and management of screening…