Following on from our request for feedback we had a Member reach out to us to ask could we raise some awareness for Lung Cancer as last month was Lung Cancer Awareness Month:
"...For lung cancer, in NZ, where Pharmac does not fund the standard of care drugs that work ( unlike Australia and most of the OECD) it is 83 percent. Or 1700 premature deaths annually. I know, as I am affected. 1 in 5 have NEVER smoked. So I would love to have seen something about November also being lung cancer month in the newsletter. Philip Hope at the Lung Foundation can provide more stats and details for you."
So in this article, we have reproduced some of the key messages from the Lung Foundation New Zealand - the facts, how to recognise the symptoms and provide you with resources to learn more.
Lung Cancer in New Zealand - the facts
According to Lung Cancer Foundation: "Lung cancer kills more people in New Zealand every year, than breast cancer, prostate cancer and melanoma cancer combined, yet it is the least funded."
Lung cancer is New Zealand’s biggest cancer killer with more than 1600 kiwis dying from lung cancer every year. Everyday 5 kiwis die of lung cancer and another 6 are diagnosed with lung cancer.
Ministry of Health reports that 2037 people were diagnosed with lung cancer in 2013 and 1656 people died of lung cancer.
A Ministry report also shows:
- Lung cancer was the most common cause of cancer death in 2012 for males aged between 45 – 64 years.
- Lung cancer was the most common cause of cancer death in 2012 for both men and women aged 65 – 74 years.
- Even healthy people can develop lung cancer – one in five people diagnosed with lung cancer have never smoked.
- Lung cancer is a major cause of disparity of health outcomes between Maori and non-Maori. Lung cancer registrations and mortality rates in 2013 are four times higher in Maori women and nearly three times higher in Maori men.
Smoking is a major risk factor for lung cancer (although it is NOT the only risk). However with 600,000 kiwis still smoking everyday, clearly smoking is a very serious and complex addiction and it is essential more resources are directed into smoking cessation programmes to support all people to quit.
Lung Cancer Symptoms
Lung cancer can be diagnosed and treated in several ways. Each person’s experience will be different. Good information helps people ask the right questions and make the right choices.
Remember, Early lung cancer often goes unnoticed
Many people with lung cancer do not have symptoms until the cancer is large or has spread. Symptoms can be different in each person, but may include:
• A cough that doesn’t go away and gets worse over time
• A sore or a “rough feeling” throat
• Constant chest pain
• Shortness of breath or wheezing
• Lots of lung infections such as bronchitis or pneumonia
• Coughing up blood.
Symptoms of a cancer that has spread
Some symptoms do not appear until the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. These symptoms may include:
• Weight loss
• Loss of appetite (not being hungry)
• Bone pain or fractures
• Blood clots.
If you’re still worried keep asking doctors about your symptoms
See your doctor right away if you notice any of these symptoms. Some people, unfortunately, go misdiagnosed for a long time because their symptoms are similar to other diagnoses such as pneumonia, allergies or a cold. If you feel that something is wrong, keep asking doctors about it.
You know your body best and it could save your lives.
FOUR KEY messages
1. Lung disease can affect anyone
2. See a doctor if you have a cough, shortness of breath, chest pains or noisy breathing.
3. Lung disease can be treated. The earlier you start treatment the better.
4. Look after your lungs. Be active and don’t smoke.
Lung Cancer Foundation has developed a Lung Cancer Patient Toolkit to equip people with information and knowledge they should know. To find out more, please click here.
If you or someone you care about has been diagnosed with lung cancer, share the patient introductory letter.