A LITTLE-KNOWN fact about November is it serves as Lung Cancer Awareness Month, raising awareness of a disease that is the leading cause of death in Australia.
Every year, around 12000 Australians are diagnosed with lung cancer, yet its symptoms are often vague and mimic those of other conditions, so it's important to know what your cough is telling you.
To kick off Lung Cancer Awareness Month, the Federal Government announced a new listing on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme that has the potential to extend the lives of patients with advanced lung cancer.
Patients with advanced lung cancer will have the treatment Keytruda subsidised for first-line treatment of metastatic non-small cell lung cancer.
Keytruda is an immunotherapy medicine that works with a patient's immune system to recognise cancer cells and destroy them.
Clinical trials yielded remarkable results as some patients became virtually cancer-free following treatment.
Without the subsidy, the cost-prohibitive medication sets patients back $11,300 per script - a whopping $188,000 a year.
Thanks to its inclusion in the PBS, patients will now pay a maximum of $39.50 per script or just $6.40 for concessional patients, including pensioners.
Keytruda was already listed on the PBS for classical Hodgkin's lymphoma and unresectable Stage III or Stage IV malignant melanoma but, from November 1, an estimated 850 lung cancer patients patients per year will avoid chemotherapy and be prescribed the novel treatment.
Minister for Health, Greg Hunt, said the scheme was providing patients with access to life-saving and life-changing medicines quicker than ever before.
"The Coalition has helped improve the health of Australians by subsidising almost $10 billion worth of new medicines, and we are now making on average one new or amended PBS listing every single day,” Minister Hunt said.
"Our commitment to the PBS is rock solid. Together with Medicare, it is a foundation of our world-class health care system.”