The Lung Cancer Association wants to change lung cancer care. Especially in the case of early detection, where many other countries have already introduced tools and methods to support healthcare. But in Sweden it takes too long, says Karin Liljelund, the association’s vice chairman. And lung cancer does not wait.
Karin was diagnosed seven years ago. She went with cough until her children made her go to the medical center. She was lucky to have a doctor who reacted immediately. It turned out that she had a 9 centimeter long tumor in her lung and metastases in her back and legs. The fight against the disease has taken several turns with various medications and treatments. She has chosen to try to make something good out of it. Among other things, by getting involved in the Lung Cancer Association. Their activities range from meeting over a coffee to support by phone to advocacy. In the advocacy work, there is a lot of focus on early detection.
– 55% of all lung cancers are detected in stage 4 in Sweden. Then it cannot be cured, and the survival rate is 12%. It is a very poor forecast. Early detection is thus incredibly important.
The worst thing that can happen is that it continues to be as it is today.
Most people who get lung cancer are up to 60 years old. 85% of them are smokers, but today more and more young people who have never smoked are diagnosed with the disease. Here, the development of risk assessment tools can help with early detection. Today, patients are entering specialist care far too late. Research projects take four to five years of discussions before anything happens. Unrelated activities must be carried out in Sweden. Soon.
– Healthcare must dare to try different tools and methods. In Sweden there is a fear of not getting things right and making mistakes. But this is not about making surgical procedures wrong, these are tools for early detection. Tools that can be improved and adjusted gradually. The worst thing that can happen is that it continues to be as it is today.
A lot of hope of change lies on Vision Zero cancer, that they can catalyze processes that otherwise take too long. The Lung Cancer Association and Zero Vision Cancer share the focus, also in areas other than early detection. Karin welcomes the competence and will of the innovation milieu.
– Vision Zero cancer can work both with long-term research and innovation projects and with quick solutions. And they also think that it is important that things happen, that there will be results. I look forward and hope for it. That we are not sitting here two years later and still just waiting for something to happen. We need to be able to tick off on the To-Do list– now we have done this.
Lung cancer is not the same as death sentence today. It is also important to spread the message of hope.
To detect lung cancer early, Karin believes that it is important to provide information to the public. Young and older – everyone can get lung cancer. You can be an elite athlete who has never smoked but still get sick. If you have had symptoms for a time such as coughing, fatigue and headaches, you must seek care. But there is also a need to inform the public that lung cancer can be cured.
– An incredible amount has happened on the treatment side in recent years. Lung cancer is not the same as death sentence today. It is also important to spread the message of hope.