Lung cancer added to national screening register

Michelle Wisbey

21/03/2024 4:43:04 PM

Eligible Australians could soon be offered a scan every two years in a bid to bolster early detection, but the RACGP says the register needs updating.

Man going over screening results
Lung cancer screening could become available for eligible individuals from July 2025.

Lung cancer – a disease responsible for around 8000 deaths across Australia each year – will soon be added to Australia’s National Cancer Screening Register, after the Federal Government introduced new legislation which would see the creation of a National Lung Cancer Screening Program (NLCSP).
Under the plan, eligible at-risk Australians who are 50–70 years old will be offered a low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) scan every two years, as well as follow-up scans if there are any findings.
It will target those in the age range with a history of cigarette smoking of at least 30 pack-years, as well as individuals with a history of cigarette smoking if they have quit within the past decade.
Screening will begin for eligible individuals from July 2025, if passed.
RACGP President Dr Nicole Higgins said this addition would be a positive step forward, labelling it a ‘smart public health decision’.
‘Many people are busy in their lives and have other things front of mind, so prompting them to get tested or screened can be the difference between finding a cancer in time or a terminal diagnosis,’ she said.
‘The register also creates a useful safety net by encouraging patients and their healthcare providers, including GPs, to take the next steps in terms of screening so that they stand the highest chance of a successful outcome.
‘The screening register is a great thing, so let’s get the details right.’
The program will be co-designed with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and include the creation of two new mandatory Medicare Benefits Schedule items for primary and follow-up LDCT scans, at an overall cost of $263.8 million.
The National Cancer Screening Register was initially developed to underpin the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program and National Cervical Screening Program, and designed to enable a single electronic record for each person participating in the programs.
But the RACGP is calling on the Government to overhaul its integration with existing clinical information systems (CIS), saying it is in need of an ‘urgent fix’.
The college cited issues relating to connectivity difficulties and delays, sporadically working software, and slow access.
‘We urge the Government to work with us and make sure the entire process is seamless and responsive for all GPs and practice teams across Australia,’ Dr Higgins said.
‘Moreover, let’s cut red tape. Many GPs are reluctant to complete time-consuming administrative work generated from the register system.
‘If these processes are important, we should be funded to complete them, or they should be automated from within general practice CISs.’
The college is also calling for breast screening programs to be added to the register in the future.
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Dr Nor Aznita Aziz   21/03/2024 5:26:04 PM

Climate changes and pollution affects the food production, food chain and ultimately our food sources are affected making good quality food more expensive and food source from the ocean unfortunately becoming more contaminated… with carcinogens.

Dr Lynette Dorothy Allen   22/03/2024 6:46:33 PM

What about all the passive smokers that had smoky workplaces before it was banned or live with a smoker ? Their incidence of lung cancer is higher than the general population and they often had no choice about exposure.