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Lung cancer killing more Australians than ever before but reprieve in sight

Wednesday 23 June, 2010

Smoking continues to take a huge toll on Australians with a new report showing lung cancer is still the number one cause of cancer death in the country - killing more people in 2007 than breast cancer, prostate cancer and skin cancers combined.

Australia's Health 2010 shows 7,626 people died of lung cancer in 2007 and that 7% of all male deaths and 4% of all female deaths in that year were caused by lung cancer.

The report also shows smoking remains the leading cause of preventable death in Australia.

Acting Executive Director of Quit, Luke Atkin, said the figures should act as a wake up call to smokers.

"Smoking is a habit that will kill half of all long term users. If it's not lung cancer, it could be cardiovascular disease, emphysema or stroke. Smokers should reduce their chances of being part of this frightening statistic and quit smoking now."

"There is a lag of several decades between when someone starts smoking and the development of lung cancer, so Quit is looking forward to the day when lung cancer is no longer the leading cause of cancer death in Australia and we can see effect of today's lower smoking rates."

"Hopefully that day will come even sooner due to the Federal Government's recent action on tobacco excise and plain packaging, which will lead to more people quitting smoking."

Other findings in the report include:

  • Victims lost almost 49 thousand years of life collectively because of lung cancer in 2007, approximately five thousand more years of life than in 2005.
  • 4% of deaths in 2007 were from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), which mainly manifests as emphysema. About three-quarters of COPD deaths are due to smoking

Smokers wanting to quit the habit can visit the Quit website or call the Quitline on 13 QUIT.


  • Smoking rates are now at their lowest levels ever with approximately one in six Australians smoking.
  • 80% of lung cancer cases are due to smoking.