Canberrans will have the opportunity to tour the world’s first truly mobile CT unit, with the National Lung Cancer Screening Program to be truck parked at Old Parliament House today and tomorrow.
The Heart of Australia truck that travels the country providing lung checks for current and former miners susceptible to black lung, silicosis, and other occupational diseases, is visiting Canberra to showcase its innovative service model that provides accurate, real-time results to the patient, including those impacted by Australia’s biggest cancer killer – lung cancer.
The visit follows the October 2022 Medical Services Advisory Committee recommendation for a national targeted lung cancer screening program, which is recognised as being essential to reducing the burden of lung cancer in Australia.
Lung cancer survival is the lowest of the five most common cancers, with late diagnosis responsible for the alarmingly low 20% 5-year survival rate.
For the 42% of people that were diagnosed with lung cancer at stage IV, this survival rate sits at just 3.2%.
Lung Foundation Australia CEO, Mark Brooke says the evidence and need for a screening program is far too great for the Government to put it off any longer.
“Early detection increases treatment options and can significantly improve patients’ prognosis with evidence suggesting that a National Screening Program would save the lives of 12,000 Australians in the first 10 years of the program,” Mr Brooke said.
“The CT screening unit on the Heart of Australia truck offers a successful model of how the screening program can be implemented, reaching Australians that otherwise face poor health outcomes due to geographical barriers to healthcare access.”
“Compared to major cities, Australians living in regional, rural and remote areas experience a 12% lower survival rate and 31% more cases due to both lower access to healthcare and longer wait times to access specialist care.”
John was recently diagnosed with lung cancer 24 hours after visiting the mobile CT truck – a service he wouldn’t have readily accessed if the truck hadn’t come to his rural town in Queensland.
“They called me back because they spotted something on the X-ray. I thought, holy hell I’ll never come good from this,” John said.
A CT scan confirmed a nodule highly suspicious for lung cancer, and John promptly had a 20mm tumour removed from his lung.
Early detection meant that John not only avoided chemotherapy and radiotherapy, but he was also able to return to work just three months later – a fate many in rural and remote communities are not as fortunate to receive.
“These mobile lung cancer screening trucks provide a practical and ready solution to improve equity of health care for all Australians, not only bringing health services to regional and remote Australia, but also provides support to the already burdened regional health system,” Mr Brooke said.
Heart of Australia Founder and Cardiologist Dr Rolf Gomes said Heart of Australia has a solid track record in delivering specialist healthcare and radiology to rural and remote Australians.
“We believe that expanding these services to include a lung screening program would mean all Australians, no matter where you live, have access to equitable quality preventative healthcare. Early detection of lung cancer would lead to less invasive treatment options for patients and also most certainly save lives.”
Lung Foundation Australia are proud to support Heart of Australia and their innovative truck that can reduce the inequities in lung cancer outcomes for our fellow Australians living in rural and remote areas.
To read more about the proposed National Lung Cancer Screening Program, visit www.lungfoundation.com.au/blueprint/.
Date: 8am-7pm Tuesday 7th March 2023, and 8am-7pm Wednesday 8th March 2023
Location: Queen Victoria Terrace, Parkes ACT 2600.