Free lung cancer tests for Australian smokers

Radiologist performing a CT scan. | Newsreel
Older Australians will soon have access to free lung cancer tests. | Photo: Peak Stock

Older Australians will soon have access to free lung tests, as the Federal Government introduces its first new cancer screening program in 20 years.

From July next year, people aged 50 to 70 years, who have a history of cigarette smoking, but do not have symptoms of lung cancer can obtain a free test under the National Lung Cancer Screening Program.

A statement from the Federal Department of Health said the program would provide free, low-dose computed tomography (CT) scans every two years, with new Medicare items.

It said the Federal Government had worked with a number or organisations to design and develop the program, including the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) to ensure it was culturally safe for First Nations people.

Work was also done with Heart of Australia to provide mobile lung cancer screening in rural and remote areas and Lung Foundation Australia to support at risk groups to use the program.

The Department stated the Daffodil Centre helped develop resources to support consumers and healthcare professionals and the University of Melbourne developed the program guidelines to support healthcare professionals along the screening pathway.

The statement said lung cancer was the most common cause of cancer-related death in Australia, and disproportionately affected First Nations people and people living in rural and remote areas.

In 2023, an estimated 14,800 Australians were diagnosed with lung cancer, with 8700 dying from the disease.

“By finding lung cancer in its early stages, when it is more treatable, we expect the program to save around 500 lives each year,” the Department statement said.

Learn more about the program.