Research uncovers shortcomings in Australasian lung cancer care - Institute for Respiratory Health

Research uncovers shortcomings in Australasian lung cancer care

Wednesday, March 13, 2024 | News

Professor Brims, from the Institute for Respiratory Health and LUCAP, recently led a study that identified significant deficiencies in lung cancer treatment and care across Australasia.

The research, which involved an analysis of lung cancer services at 89 public and private hospitals across Australia and New Zealand, found notable deficiencies in staffing, particularly in the availability of specialist lung cancer nurses and nuclear medicine specialists.

It was also reported that a mere 38 per cent of lung cancer teams comply with the multidisciplinary team staffing standards set by Cancer Australia. The research continues the work of a previous study from 2021.

Professor Brims said, “Lung cancer is Australia’s biggest cancer killer, killing more Australians than breast and bowel cancers combined with more than 16,000 new cases annually.

“Investigating and treating lung cancer has become much more complex over the past 10 years. If centres can’t provide a full specialist team, evidence suggests the quality of care will decline.”

Professor Brims noted some improvements since the 2021 study, such as an increase in centres fulfilling essential staffing needs and a slight growth in specialist nursing staff. However, he expressed concern over the fact that only around 36 per cent of multidisciplinary teams are discussing each suspected lung cancer case, which may indicate a deficit in patient care standards.

The research was recently published in the journal Respirology, it also highlighted clear differences

between the provision of staff and infrastructure to investigate and treat lung cancer between metro and regional services.

“Several examples from Australia and New Zealand show different lung cancer outcomes for different populations. This study starts to show why this is happening,” Professor Brims said.

“The research plays a crucial role in pinpointing areas where lung cancer care requires improvement, ensuring equitable treatment for all Australians and New Zealanders affected by this devastating disease.”