Lung overtakes breast as biggest cancer killer of Victoria’s women

New data has revealed lung cancer has overtaken breast cancer as the biggest cancer killer of Victorian women.

File image

File image Source: AAP

Lung has overtaken breast cancer as the biggest cancer killer of Victorian women, new data shows.

It is now the most common cancer to claim both men and women's lives with only 18 per cent of those diagnosed with lung cancer alive five years later.

The statistics, published in Cancer Council Victoria's annual report on Friday, have prompted health experts to urge smokers to get support to quit.

Director of Quit Victoria, Dr Sarah White, said the figures were the result of an increased uptake in smoking forty years ago. 

"I think we did stuff up but I think it's better to put the blame where it belongs and that's the really aggressive marketing by the tobacco companies," she told SBS News.

"They aggressively marketed to women and to young teenagers and unfortunately we are seeing the results of that now."

According to Todd Harper, the chief executive of Cancer Council Victoria, there's a difficulty in detecting cancer in its early stages.

"The difficulty we have with lung cancer is being able to detect it when it is at an early stage, which makes treatment options more available and more effective," he said.

"We also need to be investing more in research to identify treatment options that can provide hope for people diagnosed with lung cancer."

New blood test could save millions

A could help identify the disease, along with seven other common cancers, well before it spreads.

Leading researcher and oncologist, Professor Peter Gibbs, said it could dramatically change the way cancer is treated.

"One of the problems with many tumour types is it is not until people have pain or weight loss or nausea that we actually know they are there," he said.

"So what we need to do is bring the cancer diagnosis forward to a time the cancers are still curable."

Trials of the test  - which identifies early-stage tumours from proteins and mutations in the blood - have found that it successfully detected common cancers 70 per cent of the time.

File image of a patient having her blood drawn for a liquid biopsy
File image of a patient having her blood drawn for a liquid biopsy Source: AAP

The liquid biopsy was developed in collaboration between US researchers and scientists here at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in Melbourne.

And they're confident the test could be on the market for patient use within the next few years.

Professor Gibbs, from the Institute, said he's excited by the potential of the test.

"It promises to be the first useful blood test screening for many major cancers including cancers like pancreas cancer and other big killers that we currently don't have any screening test for and currently 80 per cent of people are diagnosed with very advanced disease," he said.

-With AAP 

3 min read
Published 19 January 2018 at 9:40am
Source: SBS