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September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

September 2016

September is International Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, a time when cancer organisations around the world put the spotlight on children's cancer and the need to improve diagnosis, treatment and outcomes.

Sadly around 710 children aged 0-14 are diagnosed with cancer in Australia every year and 100 will die from the disease.

Cancer Council Queensland funds and manages the Australian Paediatric Cancer Registry – one of only a few national clinical registers of childhood cancer in the world. The registry records clinical and treatment information on all children diagnosed with cancer in Australia.

Figures from the registry show that childhood cancer death rates in Australia have decreased by nearly 40 per cent over the past 15 years. However, cancer remains the most common cause of disease-related death for children aged 1-14 in Australia, and data from Associate Professor Claire Wakefield at the University of NSW has shown that 81 percent of childhood cancer survivors develop at least one life-changing mental or physical health issue after cancer treatment they received as a child. This highlights the need for further research and support services for families affected.

A critical part of Cancer Council’s work is providing information and support to families impacted by cancer. Our 13 11 20 phone number is accessible to all Australians impacted by cancer and acts as a gateway to our other cancer services and information.

We also publish a range of resources to help support families experiencing cancer. As part of this range, we have Cancer in the School Community to assist conversations about the stages of cancer for school aged children.

Additionally, our Talking to Kids About Cancer publication is designed to help when discussing all stages of a cancer diagnosis with children from infants to teenagers. Cancer Council Victoria also publish Life During and After Childhood Cancer, which explores a range of aspects related to cancer ranging from diet and fatigue to school issues.

Around the country, research projects are underway with the aim of improving diagnosis and treatment for children. Cancer Council is the largest independent funder of cancer research in Australia and is currently funding a number of research projects directly related to cancers that impact children.

For instance, Cancer Council NSW is currently funding Associate Professor Claire Wakefield at the University of NSW. Her research is focusing on implementing interventions that aim to improve long-term outcomes for childhood cancer survivors and their families.

Professor Murray Norris AM at the Children's Cancer Institute is also being funded by Cancer Council NSW and aims to increase survival rates of children with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia. Professor Norris is aiming to identify new molecular targets for treatment and ultimately develop prevention strategies.

You can find more information on Cancer Council research via our website.

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Australian public invited to free cancer immunotherapy forum

August 2016

Members of the Australian public are being invited to attend a free public forum on cancer immunotherapy at this year’s International Congress of Immunology in Melbourne.

Cancer immunotherapy, which focuses treatment on the cancer patient’s immune system to help the body attack cancer, is considered one of the biggest medical breakthroughs in recent years. It has dramatically improved the prognosis of some cancers and even cures in others.

The International Congress of Immunology (ICI) is the largest global event in the field of immunology for clinicians and researchers working in this field and is held every three years. This year the event will be held in Melbourne, Australia.

Members of the public are invited to attend the free public forum at the event and learn more about how immunotherapy works, what lies ahead and what it means for cancer treatment.

Key speakers will include Nobel Laureate Professor Peter Doherty from the University of Melbourne, Professor Ira Mellman Vice President of Research Oncology, Genentech, USA and Professor Bruce Robinson from the University of WA.

The forum will be held on Wednesday 24th of August from 6pm until 7:30pm at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre.

For more info visit: http://ici2016.org/

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Prestigious award for Cancer Council CEO

April 2016

Cancer Council Australia CEO, Professor Sanchia Aranda, is to be presented with the Distinguished Merit Award by the International Society of Nurses in Cancer Care.

Offered every two years in recognition of an outstanding contribution to the international advancement of the science and art of cancer nursing, the award acknowledges Professor Aranda’s extensive experience in cancer control as a clinician, researcher, educator and senior healthcare administrator.

From her early training as a registered nurse in New Zealand, Professor Aranda developed a specialisation in cancer control and palliative care, completing a Bachelor of Applied Science, Master of Nursing and Doctor of Philosophy.

Professor Aranda has extensive experience in health-system administration and prior to her appointment last year as Cancer Council Australia CEO, was Director of Cancer Services and Information and Deputy CEO at the Cancer Institute NSW. She is also President-elect of the Union for International Cancer Control.

Professor Aranda said she was both delighted and humbled to have been chosen for the award.

"I discovered my passion for caring for people with cancer through nursing," she said. "My early experience in cancer and palliative care nursing has underpinned my research, my work in health administration and now my role at Cancer Council Australia.

"It's an honour to receive an award that recognises how the role of nurses in improving cancer care can extend beyond hospital wards."

Professor Aranda has previously been recognised nationally in 2013 when she was named the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre Distinguished Fellow for her contributions to cancer nursing.

As well as being a research fellow at the Peter Mac, she holds academic appointments at the School of Health Sciences, University of Melbourne and University of Sydney.

Professor Aranda will be presented with her award at the International Conference on Cancer Nursing in Hong Kong later this year.

For more information visit the International Society of Nurses in Cancer Care.

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New insights into cancer control

March 2016

Cancer Council Australia has contributed to two new editorials in the latest edition of the Asia-Pacific Journal of Clinical Oncology, providing new perspectives on cancer control.

Professor Sanchia Aranda, CEO, Cancer Council Australia and Professor Christine Paul from the University of Newcastle have jointly published an editorial on 'Rethinking system change in cancer'.

The authors outline that there is growing imperative to change cancer care delivery systems in Australia, particularly due to increasing cancer survival and the growing number of people living beyond a cancer diagnosis.

They also highlight health system inequalities that need to be rectified – including poorer outcomes among those living rurally, with lower socio-economic circumstances or from an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander heritage.

They suggest that there needs to be greater involvement of primary care and greater system integration – which will lead to a more sustainable health system and better patient outcomes.

In a separate piece Professor James St John from Cancer Council Victoria and The Royal Melbourne Hospital Paul Grogan, Cancer Council Australia’s Director of Public Policy have commented on a recent evaluation of Australia’s bowel cancer screening program.

"Compelling new data on the effectiveness of Australia's National Bowel Cancer Screening Program: A model for best practice?" provides a perspective on Australia's bowel cancer screening research published in the same issue of the journal (see here). Both Mr Grogan and Professor St John were involved in the development and promotion of the screening program and say that this latest data demonstrates its value in terms of reducing morbidity and mortality.

A full copy of the journal can be found here.

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Uncovering why some patients have poorer lung cancer outcomes

January 2016

A researcher from Monash University who aims to uncover why there are differences in lung cancer outcomes for Australians from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds (CALD) has been awarded Cancer Council funding through a national priority research scheme.

The grant, awarded through the Priority Driven Research Scheme administered by the Government agency Cancer Australia, will be utilised by Professor Danielle Mazza to compare the treatment pathways of CALD and Anglo-Australian patients.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer mortality worldwide and in Australia kills more people than breast, prostate and ovarian cancer combined – it is responsible for almost one in five cancer deaths in the country.

Professor Mazza said that traditionally some groups had poorer outcomes and the research aimed to shed light on reasons for this.

“Culturally and linguistically diverse patients are especially vulnerable to higher mortality rates compared to their Anglo-Australian counterparts. At the moment we don’t know why this is – no Australian studies have examined the potential barriers for CALD patients undergoing lung cancer treatment.

“We hope to fill in the gaps in our knowledge by comparing how long it takes a patient from a CALD background to receive treatment after symptoms first develop compared to anglo-patients, by tracking differences in their treatment pathways.”

Cancer Council Australia CEO, Professor Sanchia Aranda, said that lung cancer was under-researched in Australia.

“Lung cancer attracts less research funding, despite the high proportion of cancer deaths it causes. This is the first study of its kind in Australia and will assist with future planning by helping us identify inequities in the health system that can be improved for CALD communities.”

The grant to Professor Mazza is for $430,000 over three years.

Details on how to apply for the 2016 round of the Priority Driven Research Scheme are now available via Cancer Australia here.

Professor Danielle Mazza

Professor Danielle Mazza

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Supporting World Cancer Day

January 2016

February 4 2016 is World Cancer Day.

This year’s international theme is ‘We Can. I Can.’ and focuses on the many things that individuals and groups can do to reduce the burden of cancer across the globe.

This World Cancer Day, Cancer Council Australia is highlighting support for cancer patients and survivors.

It is expected that 130,000 Australians will be diagnosed with cancer this year and one in two Australians will be diagnosed during their lifetime.  Due to improvements in early detection, treatment and care, around 65 percent of cancer patients live beyond their diagnosis – but their story doesn’t end there.

This World Cancer Day, Australians with cancer are being encouraged to get informed about how Cancer Council can support them.

We are also putting the call out for more Australians to get involved in our peer support programs and help those who are going through a similar cancer experience:

  • 'I Can' – Get Support - Cancer Council 13 11 20 is a free and confidential telephone number where anyone impacted by cancer can speak to specially trained cancer professionals who provide support and cancer information. Pick up the phone to talk to our team and find out about support services in your local area.
  • 'We Can' – Support others who have had a similar cancer experience - Cancer Connect is our national peer support program where trained cancer survivors are matched with Australians who have a similar cancer experience in terms of cancer type, treatment, age and family circumstances. Cancer Council is calling for more volunteers for this service - to volunteer or join the program, call our team on 13 11 20.

You can also support World Cancer Day by spreading the word about cancer prevention, early detection using the #WeCanICan hashtag.

For more information on local events, how you can support World Cancer Day on social media and the event itself, head to www.worldcancerday.org

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New physical activity and diet program for cancer survivors

January 2016

Healthy habits can reduce the chance of cancer returning for those who have already overcome the disease.

Cancer Council has launched a free program and invites residents from New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia, the Northern Territory and Western Australia, who have completed treatment (with curative intent) for any type of cancer at any time, to join if they want to get active, eat better and feel better. 

The program is easy to follow and will equip participants with their own health coach, who will call over a six month period to set and help reach physical activity and healthy eating goals.

Professor Michael Jefford, from the Australian Cancer Survivorship Centre, sees a need for programs like this to help people stay cancer free.

“For those who have survived cancer, adopting healthy habits is really important,” Professor Jefford said. “These habits can help reduce the risk of cancer coming back, and also prevent development of other health problems, such as heart disease or diabetes.

“Getting back to a healthy lifestyle after cancer is one of the most important things you can do for your health,” he said.

For more information on participating in the Healthy Living after Cancer program call 13 11 20.

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High Court ruling protects Australians from gene monopolies

October 2015

The High Court’s unanimous decision today (7/10) that isolating the BRCA1 gene mutation was not a 'patentable invention' should help to ensure that Australian healthcare consumers are protected from commercial gene monopolies.

Director of Public Policy at Cancer Council Australia, Paul Grogan, said the court’s ruling was a great result for the Australian public, and also for healthcare providers and biomedical researchers.

"We need clarity in patent law in Australia – and hopefully the unanimity of today’s High Court ruling provides that," Mr Grogan said. "Although the BRCA patents are about to expire, more cases like this could arise, so it is critical that the law is applied in the same consistent manner – to protect the rights of healthcare consumers, public laboratories and independent researchers.

"The emphatic nature of the ruling should make it clear that genetic materials, whether in their pure form or isolated, and the tests to identify them, should never be subject to commercial monopolisation."

Mr Grogan said the outcome was a great credit to Yvonne D’Arcy, an individual who took on a multinational biotechnology firm in the interests of healthcare consumers everywhere.

"It should also be noted that the Australian High Court’s decision was consistent with the decision of the US Supreme Court. If the court had upheld the validity of the BRCA1 patent, Australia would have been out of step with the US – straight after signing the Trans-Pacific trade deal with the US and insisting that Australians are not disadvantaged by intellectual property arrangements that could compromise access to pharmaceuticals and medical technology.

"Hopefully, governments in all countries will agree that the patent system is designed to reward invention – not processes to find materials that already exist in our biology."

External Link to ABC News video
External Link to ABC News video

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Cancer Council congratulates ‘women of influence’

September 2015

Chair of Cancer Council Australia’s Board, the Hon Nicola Roxon, and Chair of Cancer Council’s National Screening and Immunisation Committee, Professor Karen Canfell, have both been recognised in this year’s list of 100 Women of Influence.

The list, compiled by The Australian Financial Review and Westpac, celebrates outstanding vision, leadership, innovation and action from women across the country in a diverse range of sectors.

Cancer Council Australia CEO, Professor Sanchia Aranda, congratulated Ms Roxon, who joined Cancer Council’s Board earlier this year. "Ms Roxon was honoured in the category of 'Global influence', reflecting her pioneering work in tobacco control and ongoing association with Union for International Cancer Control."

Prof Aranda said it was also gratifying to see recognition of the groundbreaking work of Prof Canfell, who heads the research division at Cancer Council NSW. "Prof Canfell is one of Australia’s leading cancer epidemiologists. Her expertise, particularly in the areas of cervical cancer and the HPV vaccine, see her in demand across many countries.

"Both Ms Roxon and Prof Canfell are shining examples of women who have made significant contributions on the national and international stage and we privileged to have such talented and dedicated people contributing to the field of cancer control."

Prof Aranda also paid tribute to other high achieving women in cancer recognised in the 100 Women of Influence:

  • Prof Maria Kavallaris - Head of the Tumour Biology and Targeting Program / Co-director, Australian Centre for NanoMedicine at the Children's Cancer Institute Australia / UNSW. Awarded for innovation.
  • Dr Ranjana Srivastava - Oncologist at Monash Health, award-winning author and Guardian columnist. Awarded for global influence.

"These women have all made remarkable contributions to cancer control in Australia and internationally," Prof Aranda said.

"We are fortunate to have such a breadth of expertise in Australia and their dedication to building our capacity in cancer research, prevention and treatment."

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Film goers told they don’t have to face cancer alone

September 2015

Film goers will be offered information and support from Cancer Council under a unique partnership with director Paul Cox on his new feature film Force of Destiny.

The film is based on Paul’s experience of being diagnosed with liver cancer, and undergoing a lifesaving liver transplant. The love story, starring David Wenham, Shahana Goswami and Jacqueline McKenzie, premiered at the 64th Melbourne International Film Festival in July.

Force of Destiny will be seen across the country in a series of Cancer Council supported screenings beginning in September.

Cancer Council has developed a souvenir cinema programme for the screenings, providing a behind-the-scenes look at the film as well as cancer information and support services available to all those affected by cancer.

"We are extremely grateful for the support of the Cancer Council," Paul said. "Cancer affects almost every family in Australia in one way or another.

"We hope that our film creates a larger awareness of the need to care for and support each other, and to remain hopeful. This was very important to me during my illness."

Cancer Council Australia CEO Professor Sanchia Aranda said support services were there for anyone diagnosed with cancer, as well as their family, friends and colleagues.

"A cancer diagnosis can be devastating for an individual, and affects many people surrounding them. These realities are brought to life on film in Force of Destiny.

"Everybody’s cancer journey is different – but we all need information and support along the way. Our experienced 13 11 20 cancer support team are waiting to take calls from anyone affected by cancer – whether it’s a patient, a survivor, their family, friends, school or workplace - to make sure they have all the information and support they need."

Cancer Council supported screenings of Force of Destiny are scheduled for:

  • 4pm, Saturday 5 September, Palace Verona, Sydney
  • 7pm, Thursday 10 September, Cinema Nova, Melbourne
  • 6:30pm, Friday 11 September, Palace Cento, Brisbane
  • 4pm, Sunday 13 September, Palace Electric, Canberra
  • 4pm, Sunday 13 September, Village Cinemas, Launceston
  • 6:30pm, Monday 14 September, Village Cinemas, Hobart
  • 6:30pm, Wednesday 16 September, Deckchair Cinema, Darwin
  • 4pm, Saturday 19 September, Palace Nova East End, Adelaide
  • 6:30pm, Monday 21 September, Cinema Paradiso, Perth
  • 7:00pm, Sunday 27 September, Araluen Arts Centre, Alice Springs

For more information on the film visit www.forceofdestiny.com.au.

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This page was last updated on: Thursday, August 9, 2012

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