Australians least sympathetic to those with lung cancer study finds..

September 10, 2010 - Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among both men and women in the United States, with 90 percent of lung cancer deaths among men and approximately 80 percent of lung cancer deaths among women attributed to smoking. (Tobacco Facts, National Cancer Institute, U.S. National Institutes of Health)

A study to be released today (August 29, 2010) shows Australians are the world's least sympathetic to those with lung cancer. Nearly one third of survey respondents said they have less sympathy towards sufferers because lung cancer is linked to smoking.

The research included a survey of 16,000 people in 16 different countries.

Australia just edged out Brazil (28 per cent), then Great Britain (24 per cent) in terms of reduced sympathy levels. Argentinians were the most sympathetic, with just 10 per cent reporting feeling less compassion.

Japan and Norway both had the highest percentage of people whose residents believed lung cancer is the biggest killer in their country.

More than 9,100 Australians are diagnosed with lung cancer each year and the number of new lung cancer cases for men is projected to increase by 17 percent, from 5,384 in 2001 to 6,301 in 2011.

While lung cancer is the biggest cancer killer in Australia many respondents considered it to be third worst.

Lung Cancer Service chair David Ball says the findings show Australians wrongly assume most sufferers of lung cancer still smoke. "In fact, the predominant proportion of patients, about 60 per cent are ex-smokers," he said. "So these are people who may have given up five or 10, or 20 years ago, so they've done the right thing, but they're still at risk. These are people I think who do deserve sympathy."

About 20 per cent of lung cancer sufferers have never smoked.

Dr Ball says the misconception that every sufferer is a chronic smoker is damaging. "If you look at the amount of money that's ploughed into lung cancer research, it's a tiny fraction of what goes into breast cancer research, and yet there's more suffering and more years of life lost due to lung cancer," he said. "It just doesn't balance out."

The study's release coincides with Lung Cancer Tree Planting Day, with events in Canberra, Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

Reference: Australians least sympathetic on lung cancer, Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC)/Australian Associated Press (AAP), 8/29/2010.