Closing the Gap: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people 70% more likely to die from Lung Cancer

Release Date: 

18/03/2015

News Type: 

  • Media Releases

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia, with Indigenous Australians 70% more likely to die from lung cancer than non-Indigenous Australians. 

Cancer Australia CEO, Professor Helen Zorbas explained that lung cancer is the most common cancer in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.  ‘Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are significantly more likely to be diagnosed with lung cancer than non-Indigenous Australians.  It accounts for 1 in 6 of all cancers diagnosed in Indigenous Australians and the incidence is higher in men and in people living in more remote areas.  

‘Importantly, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people also have a lower chance of survival following diagnosis.  It is important that we address this disparity in outcomes by working with the community and health professionals to improve knowledge and care for Indigenous Australians,’ Professor Zorbas said. 

Today, National Close the Gap Day, Cancer Australia is working to address the disparity in lung cancer outcomes with the release of its Lung Cancer in Our Mob handbook, developed for health professionals working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to help them support Indigenous Australians with lung cancer.  It endorses the benefits of a healthy lifestyle, explains medical information in plain language and encourages culturally appropriate patient care and sources of support to the patients, their family and the community. 

The Lung Cancer in Our Mob handbook also addresses the biggest risk factor associated with lung cancer, smoking.  42% of Indigenous Australians smoke on a daily basis, compared with 16% of non-Indigenous Australians.  While that rate has improved from 49% in 2002, current smokers are around 9 times more likely to develop lung cancer than people who have never smoked. 

The handbook supports health professionals working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to help prevent lung cancer, improve knowledge of the symptoms and support people through the lung cancer treatment pathway.  

The Lung Cancer in Our Mob handbook is available online, and pre-orders are currently being accepted for printed copies on the Cancer Australia Website. 

Today, Cancer Australia is also proud to be releasing its Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), which will contribute to our work in addressing the gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous Australians’ cancer outcomes.  It can be found here

Cancer Australia will be holding a forum on lung cancer in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities on Wednesday 25 March 2015 in Darwin.  The forum will seek to increase awareness and understanding of lung cancer in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and bring together community based health workers and hospital based staff.  The Lung Cancer in Our Mob handbook will be made available at the forum. 

Media Enquiries can be directed to Amy Cook at (02) 9357 9401, 0438 209 833 or amy.cook@canceraustralia.gov.au