Subscribe by email
To stay updated on the latest news and information released, simply type in your address below and click subscribe.
Find out the latest news at Cancer Council Australia:
- Genetic breast cancer risk
- New position statement on alternative and complementary therapies
- New consumer website for cancer patients
- Boys join national HPV vaccination program
- Raising awareness of FOBT
- New cancer research grants announced
- New network to push Indigenous cancer into the spotlight
- Cancer pain management in adults
- SPF 50+
- Cancer patients to benefit from e-health record
Actress Angelina Jolie’s recent public comments about her decision to undergo a prophylactic (preventive) double mastectomy have attracted worldwide media interest.
Given the prevalence of breast cancer in Australia (14,000 new cases and 2700 deaths a year), there has been significant interest in this country in Ms Jolie’s decision.
Although breast cancer is common in Australia, only 5-10% of cases are linked to known genetic factors.
Prophylactic surgery on the basis of genetic susceptibility to illness is a complex issue and we recommend anyone considering this form of surgery seek expert advice so they can make an informed decision. Women who are concerned about genetic risk of breast cancer should discuss the issue with their doctor. GPs can offer advice on genetic testing and counselling.
The main cause of breast cancer is ageing. Cutting alcohol intake can, however, significantly reduce your risk, as can maintaining a healthy weight, being physically active and eating a balanced diet, particularly for postmenopausal women.
Cancer Council information:
- Genetic testing for cancer
- Cancer Genetics Education Resource Directory
- About breast cancer
- Early detection of breast cancer
- Cancer Council Helpline 13 11 20
Cancer Council Australia has published a new position statement on complementary and alternative therapies. The statement considers the evidence, risks and benefits associated with these therapies, and makes considered recommendations for cancer patients and health practitioners.
Complementary medicines (referring to a range of practices and products used together with conventional medicine) and alternative therapies, (used instead of conventional medicine), have been the subject of debate in the media and among health professionals.
Some of the key recommendations made in the statement include:
- Supporting the right of individuals to seek information about complementary and alternative therapies and respecting their decision to use them, provided they are not at risk of being harmed.
- Encouraging people with cancer who are considering using non-conventional therapies to make an informed choice. This includes asking questions about the efficacy, risk, contraindications and the cost of the therapy, as well as the qualifications of the practitioner.
- Encouraging people with cancer to discuss with their healthcare provider any complementary or alternative therapies they are using or considering using, in order to minimise risk.
- Encouraging healthcare providers to routinely discuss the use of complementary and alternative therapies with all cancer patients and survivors, in an open and non-judgemental manner.
The statement also recommends the Therapeutic Goods Association take a more active role in warning consumers about false claims made in relation to the benefits of complementary and alternative medicine and for more scientific studies to examine the safety and efficiency of promising and commonly used complementary and alternative therapies.
You can read the full statement here.
For more information
Cancer Australia, the federal government cancer agency, in collaboration with the Clinical Oncological Society of Australia, has launched a new online consumer resource for cancer patients participating in cancer research and trials.
The Consumer Learning website contains short online learning modules and video presentations to guide consumers through the clinical trial and research process. It includes information on the consumer’s role in clinical trials, how research is formulated and an overview of the Cancer Cooperative Trials Groups in Australia.
Cancer Australia also launched a Consumer Involvement Toolkit, designed to support CEOs, managers, health professionals, researchers and policy makers to effectively involve consumers in their organisation’s work.
Health Minister, Tanya Plibersek, has launched the world’s first National Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) Immunisation program for boys.
From February 2013, males aged 12-13 years will receive the HPV vaccine at school on an ongoing basis. Males aged 14-15 years will also receive the vaccine as part of a catch-up program until the end of the 2014 school year.
In July 2012 the Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing announced $21 million in funding over four years to extend the HPV immunisation program to boys from 2013.
Females ages 12-13 years will continue to receive the vaccine at school.
Gardasil, the vaccine used in the national program, protects against four types of HPV that are pre-cursers to some cancers, in particular cervical cancer, as well as genital warts in men and women.
"The HPV vaccine is the best protection against the HPV virus; a virus that infects four out of five sexually active people at some point in their lives and is linked to cancer and other disease," Ms Plibersek said.
Since the HPV vaccination program started in 2007 there has been a reduction in HPV-related infections in young women and a reduced incidence of genital warts in males and females. There has also been a reduction in pre-cancerous lesions in young women.
Cancer Council Australia CEO, Professor Ian Olver, said the addition of the HPV vaccine offered specific benefits for men.
"The papillomavirus is responsible for some cancers inside the mouth and throat along with cancers of the genital tract," Professor Olver said. "The vaccine also protect against genital warts, which is a very common sexually transmitted infection."
For more information on HPV, the vaccine and the national program visit www.hpvvaccine.org.au
If you are aged 50 or over, Cancer Council recommends bowel cancer screening every two years using a faecal occult blood test (FOBT), a simple test that can be conducted in the privacy of your home.
We encourage Australians aged 50, 55 and 65 to participate in the government’s free National Bowel Cancer Screening Program. People turning 60 this year will also be invited to join the program from 1 July this year and people turning 70 from 1 July 2015.
For Australians aged 50 and over who are not currently eligible for government program, there are alternatives.
'Let’s Beat Bowel Cancer' and 'Bowel Cancer Australia' have just launched a new initiative www.dipdropdone.org, which offers an online option to purchase an FOBT kit. Kits can also be obtained from many pharmacies and GPs.
Cancer Council will continue to call on the government to accelerate the program’s roll-out to all Australians aged 50 and over, every two years. In the meantime, we welcome efforts to raise awareness of the importance of faecal occult blood testing.
Federal Health Minister, Tanya Plibersek, has announced $10.6 million in new grants for cancer research through the Priority-driven Collaborative Cancer Research Scheme.
The 38 new cancer research projects include two projects jointly funded by Cancer Australia and Cancer Council Australia.
Cancer Australia developed the grant scheme to provide a national approach to the funding of cancer research in identified priority research areas.
The project grants are designed to support research that will have a direct impact on clinical practice, policy and patient outcomes.
Since its inception in 2007, 209 grants totalling $71.8 million have been funded through this scheme.
“It is important that there continues to be targeted investment in cancer research aimed at reducing the impact of the disease and improving the quality of life and outcomes for patients,” Minister Plibersek said.
“Many of the successful recipients are at the forefront of cancer research in this country and their research provides hope for everyone affected by cancer.”
The two projects with Cancer Council Australia co-funding include:
- Michael Friedlander – ICON8: An international multi-stage randomised phase III trial of dose-fractionated chemotherapy compared to standard three-weekly chemotherapy for women with newly diagnosed epithelial ovarian cancer.
- Peter Grimison - Accelerating First-Line Chemotherapy to Improve Cure Rates for Advanced Germ Cell Tumours: An Australian-Led, International Randomised Trial.
For more information on the grants and the Priority-driven Collaborative Research Scheme, visit Cancer Australia.
A new national cancer research network aimed at improving quality of life and survival rates among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cancer patients in Australia has been launched at the Cancer Council Australia.
Cancer is the second leading cause of death among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
The National Indigenous Cancer Network (NICaN) will encourage and support collaboration in Indigenous cancer research and the delivery of services to Indigenous people with cancer, including carers and families.
Senior cancer researcher Associate Professor Gail Garvey of the Menzies School of Health Research said the launch, coinciding with World Cancer Day, represents a huge step forward towards closing the gap on Indigenous cancer mortality rates.
“Until now cancer has been a low priority on the Indigenous health agenda, despite the disease being the second leading cause of death among Indigenous people and accounting for a greater number of deaths each year than diabetes and kidney disease.
“We know that Indigenous people with cancer have more advanced disease when diagnosed, are less likely to receive treatment, and are more likely to die from their cancers than other Australians. There is a clear need to improve health services for people with cancer by utilising the information we do have and by identifying knowledge gaps.
“NICaN is about making sure that what's known about cancer in Indigenous Australians is available for use by people with cancer, their families, practitioners, policy makers and researchers,” Assoc Prof Garvey said.
Professor Ian Olver, CEO, Cancer Council Australia said NICaN will bring together key researchers, practitioners, and consumer advocacy groups from across Australia.
“NICaN will actively promote the conversion of research knowledge into Australian health policy and practices, as well as identify areas where more research is needed.”
Health professionals from all disciplines are being called on to provide comment on a new guideline: Cancer Pain Management in Adults: evidence-based clinical practice guidelines adapted for use in Australia developed by Improving Palliative Care through Clinical Trials (ImPaCCT) and HammondCare.
The guideline, which provides brief, point-of-care recommendations for screening, assessment and management of cancer-related pain in adults, is now open for public consultation online. It also includes recommendations on pharmacological and non-pharmacological management and education adapted from existing international guidelines.
The guideline was informed by the results of an Australian survey of current practice conducted by ImPaCCT, which was completed by 527 respondents in late 2011/early 2012.
Health professionals from all disciplines are invited to advise on ways to improve the guideline’s utility and applicability across Australian healthcare settings.
The guideline is available on Cancer Council Australia’s Cancer Guidelines Wiki, at: http://wiki.cancer.org.au/australia/Guidelines:Cancer_pain_management
Information regarding this public consultation can be found at this link: http://wiki.cancer.org.au/australia/Guidelines:Cancer_pain_management/Public_consultation
Public consultation will remain open until 13 January 2013. The guideline will then be revised in light of feedback and piloted as part of a clinical pathway in early 2013.
If you have any questions in regards to this guideline and the public consultation process, please contact Tim Luckett, Project Manager, at 02 9514 4861 or via firstname.lastname@example.org.
A new standard allowing manufacturers to increase the sun protection factor in sunscreens from SPF30+ to SPF50+ and adding improved UVA protection was announced recently.
The new standard is likely to see SPF50+ sunscreens on pharmacy and supermarket shelves by around mid-January 2013, though some could appear sooner.
The new SPF50+ sunscreen offers marginally better protection from UVB radiation, which causes sunburn and adds to skin cancer risk. SPF50+ filters out 98% of UVB radiation compared to 96.7% blocked by SPF30.
It needs to be applied just as generously, reapplied every two hours, and used in conjunction with protective clothing, a broad-brimmed hat, sunglasses and shade.
Any new SPF30 sunscreens will have the same UVB protection as previous SPF30 sunscreens, but are required to have a higher UVA protection in order to be labelled ‘broad-spectrum’. The sun’s UVA wavelengths are responsible for the sun’s ageing effect on the skin and also contribute to skin cancer risk.
There is no need to throw away your current sunscreen. Cancer Council recommends using any sunscreen of at least SPF30 which is labelled as being water-resistant and broad-spectrum.
Manufacturers will be allowed to continue producing and selling their current formulations. The new standard applies to new products only and is simply a little better, and offers more choice.
For more information, read the SPF50+ sunscreens set to hit shelves this summer media release.
Cancer Council Australia has long advocated for an electronic health system in Australia, to provide healthcare professionals with more efficient, coordinated patient information and to enable healthcare consumers to take personal control of their medical records.
Cancer patients can now enjoy the benefits of electronic health by registering for a personally controlled electronic health record (PCEHR) – an eHealth record.
Until now, health records have been either paper-based or stored in different locations, with little connection to each other or to healthcare professionals and not readily accessible to consumers. Your eHealth record will allow you, and others chosen by you, to access a secure summary of your important health information within the click of a mouse.
You control what goes on your record, and who is allowed to see it. It could include potentially lifesaving information such as previous adverse drug reactions, details of a recent stay in hospital, tests results or details of the medications you are taking. It will grow over time to contain a summary of your main health events.
Cancer is a complex disease requiring multidisciplinary care. With the introduction of the eHealth record system, healthcare professionals will have faster, easier access to more health information from other healthcare professionals, creating a more efficient system, making continuity of care easier and improving treatment decisions.
- Best treatment – as the system grows, healthcare organisations such as a GP practice, cancer centre or hospital will be able to quickly view a summary of your information, helping them to make the best decisions about your care.
- More convenient – you won’t have to remember every medication, test or health-related incident.
- Less stressful – allows rapid access to information in an emergency.
- Better health – you will be able to better manage your health.
- Sharing the load – if you wish, you can share your health information with family members, carers, or other trusted people.
For more information, visit the eHealth website, ehealth.gov.au
This page was last updated on: Thursday, August 9, 2012