Lung Disease In Australia
Lung Disease is prolific and significant in Australia. This silent killer affects 2.6 million Australians1 and puts a large financial burden on our health system. Here are some key facts around the major lung diseases. These facts reflect the serious nature of lung disease:
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a progressive and irreversible lung condition that affects a person’s ability to breathe and can have a significant impact on their quality of life2 .Often referred to as ‘chronic bronchitis’ and ‘emphysema’, COPD is associated with the destruction of lung tissue and a narrowing of the airways.
- While there is no cure for COPD, there are things a person can do to slow down the progression of the disease, improve quality of life, and stay out of hospital if it is diagnosed early.
- It is estimated that one in seven Australians over 40 have some level of lung deterioration as a result of COPD3.
- COPD is the second leading cause of avoidable hospitalisations in Australia4. Every day 1,000 COPD patients occupy Australian hospital beds, with an average cost of $3,700 per admission (average 7.5 day stay) 5.
- Despite falling death rates, COPD is still a leading cause of death and disease burden after heart disease, stroke and cancer 6.
- Australia has one of the highest rates of COPD deaths in the developed world6.
- One in 16 Australians will have developed lung cancer before the age of 85 with males twice as likely to be diagnosed as females 7.
- Around 10,000 Australians are diagnosed with Lung Cancer each year. The latest projections indicate that this figure is expected to increase by 40% by the year 20208.
- Around 8,000 Australians die each year due to lung cancer – that’s more than 20 people a day. (Males – 4715, Females – 2911) 8.
- Lung cancer alone accounts for one in every five deaths due to cancer (19%) 8.
- Survival has increased over the last 26 years, but remains very low – only 13 out of 100 people with lung cancer survive five years beyond their diagnosis8.
- There is no fairness in lung cancer – it’s the biggest cancer killer, and affects men and women, young and old, smokers and ex/never smokers.
- Lung cancer remains one of the least funded cancers in the world
- Approximately 10% of the population (2 million people) have asthma currently9.
- In 2009, there were 411 deaths caused by asthma9.
- In 2009-10, there were 39,328 hospital separations for asthma.That’s 0.5% of all separations9.
Interstitial Lung Disease
- Childhood interstitial lung disease is a broad term for a group of rare lung diseases that can affect babies, children, and teens. These diseases have some similar symptoms and also harm the lungs in similar ways.
- Currently, the number of children with interstitial lung disease is unknown. However, we do know that approximately one third of children with interstitial lung disease die.
All lung diseases share the common element that early diagnosis is key to providing the best possible clinical outcomes to patients. An important part of early detection is lung health awareness. Unfortunately, at present there is a very low awareness of the importance of lung health in Australia. In fact, a recent survey found that one in three of Australians rate their lung health as ‘very unimportant’.
1 Australian Bureau of Statistics. National Health Survey Summary of Results: Long term conditions. 2007-2008.
2 McKenzie DK, Frith PA, Burdon et al on behalf of Lung Foundation Australia. The COPDX Plan: Australian and New Zealand Guidelines for the Management of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease 2008, found at www.copdx.org.au
3 Toelle B, Xuan W, Bird T, Abramson M, Burton D, Hunter M, Johns D, Maguire G, Wood-Baker R, Marks G. COPD in the Australian burden of lung disease (BOLD) study. Respirology 2011;16 (Suppl 1):12
4 Australian Bureau of Statistics, Underlying causes of deaths in Australia, 2009.
5 Cancer incidence projections, Australia 2011 to 2020.
6AIHW 2012. Australia’s health 2012. Australia’s health no. 13. Cat. no. AUS 156. Canberra: AIHW.
7 AIHW 2012. Cancer survival and prevalence in Australia: period estimates from 1982 to 2010. Cancer series no. 69. Cat. no. CAN 65. Canberra: AIHW.
8 AIHW Lung Cancer in Australia, November 2011.
9 The Asthma Foundation