Lung Health

Research undertaken in November 2013 found that only 37% of adults in New Zealand have ever talked to their doctor about the health of their lungs. Even amongst smokers, only four out of ten have talked to their doctors about the health of their lungs.

Be aware of the symptoms; unexplained cough, shortness of breath and chest pain.

If you have a persistent, unexplained cough, wheezing or chest pain, ask your doctor to check your lungs.

Early detection and effective treatment WILL improve survival rates.

Lung Cancer

  • Every year in New Zealand, more people die of lung cancer, than of breast cancer, prostate cancer and melanoma combined.
  • Lung cancer is New Zealand’s biggest cancer killer with more than 1600 kiwis dying from lung cancer every year.
    Everyday 5 kiwis die of lung cancer and another 6 are diagnosed with lung cancer.
  • Ministry of Health reports that 2037 people were diagnosed with lung cancer in 2013 and 1656 people died of lung cancer.
  • A Ministry report also shows:
    • Lung cancer was the most common cause of cancer death in 2012 for males aged between 45 – 64 years
    • Lung cancer was the most common cause of cancer death in 2012 for both men and women aged 65 – 74 years
  • Even healthy people can develop lung cancer – one in five people diagnosed with lung cancer have never smoked.
  • Lung cancer is a major cause of disparity of health outcomes between Maori and non-Maori. Lung cancer registrations and mortality rates in 2013 are four times higher in Maori women and nearly three times higher in Maori men.

    Ministry of Health 2013 report on cancer registrations show;
    421 Maori were diagnosed with lung cancer – 8 per week (3 times the general population)
    86 Pacific Islanders were diagnosed with lung cancer – 7 per month (almost 1.5 times the general population)
    82 Asians were diagnosed with lung cancer – 7 per month (less than the general population)
    2037 people in total were diagnosed with lung cancer (40 people per week – 6 everyday)

    Ministry of Health 2013 report on lung cancer deaths show;
    299 Maori died from lung cancer – 25 per month (almost three times the general population)
    73 Pacific Islanders died of lung cancer – 6 per month
    52 Asians died from lung cancer – 4 per month (half the general population)
    1656 people died of lung cancer – 5 people everyday

  • Smoking is a major risk factor for lung cancer (although it is NOT the only risk). However with 600,000 kiwis still smoking everyday, clearly smoking is a very serious and complex addiction and it is essential more resources are directed into smoking cessation programmes to support all people to quit.
  • Lung Foundation New Zealand asks the government to increase significantly the portion of income received from tobacco taxes that is directed into; smoking cessation and tobacco control and to resource lung health promotion and early detection (lung disease) programmes.

Lung Foundation New Zealand advocates on behalf of lung cancer patient’s for a state commitment to early detection and access to more effective treatments (including targeted therapies and immunotherapy) in the public health system.

Lung Disease

  • Lung diseases are one of the world’s biggest health concerns, causing about one sixth of all deaths worldwide. Lung disease is responsible for almost 12 deaths every day in New Zealand.
  • Lung diseases cause disability and premature death. They have a huge cost related to primary care, hospital care and treatments, as well as the loss of productivity of those who cannot work and people who die early because of their condition.
  • 50,664 people were admitted to hospital in New Zealand (inpatient or day patient) during 2011/12 as the result of respiratory disease (including lung cancer).
  • 4,228 people died in New Zealand as the result of a respiratory disease (including lung cancer) in 2010.
  • In New Zealand, respiratory diseases – which include lower respiratory tract infections such as pneumonia and lung cancer – accounted for $265 million in hospital costs alone in 2011/12.
  • Some 13% of New Zealanders may be at a higher risk of contracting pneumonia, simply because of their age. The disease can target anyone at any time however pneumonia is more common and more serious in older adults. This means that a significant number of New Zealanders could be at a higher risk due to the country’s aging population.
  • People with weakened immune systems and those with chronic conditions such as asthma, diabetes, cancer and COPD are also at far greater risk of contracting pneumonia – a common cause of hospital admissions in New Zealand adults.