FUNDING allocation for cancer research “has to change”, says thoracic cancer nurse co-ordinator Kirsten Mooney.
The East Perth-based WA Cancer and Palliative Care nurse said 23 Australians died from lung cancer every day but a “nihilistic culture” surrounded the disease because most people presented with advanced lung cancer, when it was too late.
“The main misconception is that you have to be a smoker to get it,” she said. “The strong association with smoking leads to the stigma surrounding lung cancer, however smoking is linked to at least 16 other types of cancer.
“If you have lungs, you can get lung cancer.”
Ms Mooney, who has worked with lung cancer patients for seven years, said lung cancer killed more Australians than breast, prostate and bowel cancers together.
“Despite this, only 5 per cent of tumour-specific research dollars are allocated to lung cancer,” she said.
Ms Mooney said people could visit the Lung Foundation Australia website to complete a lung health checklist during Lung Cancer Awareness Month in November.
“When I started nursing over 20 years ago, the five-year survival rater for common cancers like breast and prostate was poor,” she said. “Now, through emerging and ongoing research, the five-year survival rate from breast cancer is greater than 90 per cent but the five year survival for lung cancer is 14 per cent.”
Guest speakers and health professionals will speak at Shine a Light on Lung Cancer at the Australian Institute of Management in Jolimont on November 5 from 6-8pm.