Lung Cancer - What you should know

Published on Wednesday, 3 August 2022 at 12:00:00 AM


Lung cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people[1].

World Lung Cancer Day, observed every August 1, provides an opportunity to raise awareness on lung cancer and its risk factors.

What is lung cancer

Lung cancer begins in the respiratory system and can spread to other parts of the body.

Lung cancer is a malignant growth that develops in the tissue of one or both of the lungs.

The 5 year survival rate of lung cancer for Indigenous Australians 11%, with Indigenous Australians being 1.8 times as likely to die from the cancer. 

What causes lung cancer

There are various risk factors that cam increase the risk of developing lung cancer. It is important to note that having these risk factors does not mean you will develop lung cancer and some people can still develop lung cancer without having any known risk factors. Factors that increases your risk of developing the disease includes:

  • Tobacco smoking – this is the greatest risk factor for lung cancer and is the greatest for people who began smoking early in life, smoked for longer and smoke more often.
  • Second-hand smoke (passive smoking) – breathing in other people’s smoke
  • Exposure to asbestos – asbestos is a mineral with tiny fibers that can be easily breathed in and become trapped in the lungs.
  • Exposure to radon (radioactive gas)
  • Exposure to occupational substances such as arsenic, cadmium, diesel fumes and soot
  • Personal history – having other lung disease (e.g. lung fibrosis, chronic bronchitis, pulmonary tuberculosis, emphysema) or HIV infection may increase the risk of lung cancer
  • Family history – there may be a higher risk of you developing cancer if a family member has been diagnosed with cancer
  • Older age – Lung cancer s most commonly diagnose in individuals over the age of 60 years

What are the symptoms of lung cancer

The most common symptoms of lung cancer are:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Coughing or spitting up blood
  • Changes to the voice such as hoarseness
  • Chest pain
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Chronic chest infection
  • Tiredness or weakness

Tackling Indigenous Smoking Program

Smoking is the largest risk factor for lung cancer. To help reduce smoking rates and facilitate smoking cessation in our communities, Wirraka Maya offers Tackling Indigenous Smoking Program to provide support and education on the risks of smoking.

To learn more about our Tackling Indigenous Smoking Program, please contact (08) 9172 0444.


Download Lung Cancer Infographic

Lung Cancer Infographic

Back to All News