New study shows 'detection gap' between different cancers


A new study has shown which cancers are being detected early in Australia.

Medical professionals are more likely to detect breast cancer, prostate cancer and melanoma in the early stages compared with other cancers, a new Cancer Australia study has found. 

Patients with lung cancer and bowel cancer are more likely to be diagnosed in the later stages, according to the research.

Cancer Australia Chief Executive Helen Zorbas said the release of this important data would help health professionals tackle cancer better.

Early cancer diagnosis rates.
Early cancer diagnosis rates.

"Lung cancer tends to be more advanced at diagnosis because the symptoms don't become apparent until later in the disease process. Also some people ignore the symptoms because they believe it couldn't be lung cancer," she said.

Caroline Bernardi was diagnosed with stage 3B lung cancer 10 years ago and was given a five per cent chance of surviving more than 12 months.

After receiving chemotherapy many times, she turned to a clinical drug trial which proved successful.

"I thought that being a non-smoker, I was immune to lung cancer. It turned out clearly I wasn't," she told SBS News.

"Because of its severity and how lethal lung cancer is, early detection is absolutely vital."

The study has also found significant variations in early-stage diagnosis amongst population groups.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have high proportions of more advanced cancers than non-Indigenous Australians.

Chief clinical officer at The Chris O'Brien Lifehouse Professor Michael Boyer said the data highlights the urgent need for an early detection test.

"You know it's true most coughs are nothing. They're a chest infection or something very, very minor but if it persists, it's really important that people go to their general practitioner and follow it up."

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