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A Systematic Approach to Investigating Symptoms of Lung Cancer

Speciality Classification
Medical Doctors
Accredited training for health professionals

In collaboration with Cancer Australia and clinical experts in lung cancer, Lung Foundation Australia has developed a free, accredited eLearning course for primary care health professionals based on Investigating symptoms of lung cancer: a guide for all health professionals. The course is developed to assist all health professionals investigate symptomatic people with suspected lung cancer and support their early and rapid referral into the diagnostic pathway.

By completing this training health professionals will be able to:

  • Outline the role of primary care health professionals in treating lung cancer in Australia
  • Explain how the resource Investigating symptoms of lung cancer: a guide for all health professionals (the Guide) supports primary care health professionals in practice
  • Apply the Guide to case study patients with suspected lung cancer
  • Outline a best practice approach to lung cancer care including referral to multi-disciplinary teams.


The critical role of primary care health professionals

Health professionals working in primary care are integral to early detection of lung cancer, as the majority of patients first present to primary care settings. In the three months leading up to diagnosis, patients often see a GP ≥ 4 times before a diagnosis is made.1 For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, who are considered high risk, Aboriginal Health Workers provide a critical link  in providing information, support and co-ordination to improve health outcomes.


Investigating symptoms and signs
  • Medical history and physical examination 
  • Imaging tests, such as chest X-ray, computed tomography (CT) scan, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), positron emission tomography (PET) scan, bone scan or ultrasound 
  • Laboratory tests on blood or tissue 
  • Lung biopsy 
  • Sputum cytology 
  • Bronchoscopy 
  • Video-assisted thoracoscopy 
  • Thoracentesis
  • Mediastinoscopy and mediastinotomy


It is recommended that a person with suspected lung cancer be referred to a specialist who is an active member of a cancer care Multidisciplinary Team (MDT). Health professionals, including general practitioners, are encouraged to use established clinical databases and pathways to support timely and appropriate referral. Lung Foundation Australia maintains a living directory of lung cancer MDTs to inform patients and health professionals of the location throughout Australia. The directory can be searched on a state basis, and a map function is also available to assist with referral decisions. 

A Systematic Approach to Investigating Symptoms of Lung Cancer
Speciality Classification
Provider Type
Education Provider
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