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Globally, and at home, we need a plan to reduce cancer inequalities.

July 2019

Australia has some of the best cancer survival rates in the world, but unfortunately this success story masks some stark inequalities. For instance, Australia’s most disadvantaged populations are 37 percent more likely to die of cancer than the richest.

Earlier this year the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the specialised cancer agency of the World Health Organisation (WHO), released a new report on ‘Reducing social inequalities in cancer: evidence and priorities for research’. There is a social inequality divide in cancer outcomes between high development index and low development index countries. We also see a similar  divide within countries between those who are in lower socioeconomic groups versus higher socioeconomic groups.

Social inequalities range from how common cancer risks are, to access to pain and palliative care, to early detection and screening programs, to access to treatment, as all these factors compounds the inequalities between countries.

For example, in high-income countries paediatric cancer drugs are freely available, and survival rates are between 80-90%. Whereas in Sub-Saharan Africa, whilst there is some access to these treatments, they are considerably more expensive, and survival rates are much poorer. That  inequality is one of the most profound on the planet, especially for a low incidence cancer that would be affordable for Governments to fund.

There is a trend globally for cancer control plans to focus on treating cancer, rather than investing in risk factor reduction for potentially preventable cancers. On a global scale the single biggest factor that could globally reduce inequalities in cancer would be to get smoking prevalence down.

The reduction in smoking rates in high income countries is resulting in a fall in lung cancer rates and cardiovascular disease. However, in low income countries the increase in tobacco smoking rates will result in a future of increased chronic disease burden.

Countries like Australia have made huge strides in lowering tobacco smoking rates through our world-leading national anti-tobacco campaigns, plain packaging work, and tax excises. The impact these tobacco control measures could have globally would be revolutionary.

The next biggest impact on inequalities in cancer would be to improve data collection, especially measuring social inequalities. Many countries do not have systems in place to collect vital data that enables governments and public health organisations to understand those factors that contribute to poorer outcomes. Data that takes into account factors that mask inequalities, and consider key points such as income, occupation level, literacy and schooling level has the ability to lead to important changes.

As well as exploring the cancer burden in low-income countries, the IARC report specifically highlights examples from our own backyard of where we need to do better.

In Australia, one in three cancers is preventable, yet we  spend less than 2% of our federal health expenditure on prevention. Much of the current and future burden on our health system is potentially preventable but requires investment  in effective health promotion and prevention policies and interventions. Not only would this prevent cancer, but would have the ability to raise health literacy levels, supporting those who do go on to have a chronic disease like cancer to make the best decisions about their treatment.

We often hear about how Australia has a universal healthcare system which many assume means that access to great cancer outcomes  is equal. However, we know those who have good outcomes navigate our health system differently to those who have poorer outcomes. We need a system that supports every person who accesses it, navigating them effectively to the best cancer diagnosis and treatment. From ensuring Australians do not face financial crisis by reducing treatment costs, to improving access to Centrelink and superannuation to reduce the burden of having cancer, a multifactorial response is needed to improve outcomes for all. No one should be forced to make a decision between the best treatment, and the treatment they can afford.

Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have a combined mortality rate for all cancers that is 30% higher than that of non-Indigenous people and the most socio-economically disadvantaged members of our community are 37% more likely to die from cancer than the least disadvantaged, including for some cancers with a lower incidence in those communities.

Disadvantaged populations are  diagnosed with a different range of cancers due to higher prevalence of some cancer risk factors, seem less likely to participate in national cancer screening programs and may not always receive optimal cancer treatment as a result of poorer health literacy, financial toxicity and later diagnosis. Early advice and support will help Australians avoid taking medical risks, entering into financial hardship, and ensure they get the best treatment.

As a society, Australia needs to recognise that social  inequalities exist, impact on all health outcomes and that the inequality gap is widening. Whether it’s improving one person’s access to life-saving treatment, or reducing cancer burden on a global scale, this report highlights an important issue – globally, and at home, we need a plan to reduce cancer inequalities. A solution for our most vulnerable citizens will be a solution for all.

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Australia Post

July 2019

Australia Post

What we've achieved together

Australia Post is one of Cancer Council's top workplace giving partners.

Over 35,000 Australia Post employees have the opportunity to donate from their pre-tax salary. Employee donations are matched by Australia Post (up to $200 per employee) to support employees to make a difference in the community in which they operate.

Employees also participate in a variety of other engaging Cancer Council fundraising activities throughout the year, including volunteering time, to help achieve our vision of a cancer-free future.

“Australia Post people have a proud history of supporting the communities we live and work in. Workplace Giving enriches and empowers our people by providing a way they can support the charities and causes that they care about most. With the additional benefit of company matching to enhance their giving, over the last 18 months our people from across the organisation have given more than $97,500 to Cancer Council through Workplace Giving along."

Bob Black

Chief Operating Officer & EGM eCommerce Delivery (and Workplace Giver), Australia Post

To become a corporate supporter, please call the national Corporate Partnerships team at Cancer Council Australia on +61 2 8063 4100 or email corporatepartnerships@cancer.org.au.

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Hormone Therapy

July 2019

Some cancers grow in response to particular hormones. These cancers are known as hormone-dependent cancers. They include some types of breast, uterine and prostate cancers.


What are hormones?

Hormones are substances that are produced naturally in the body and affect how your body works. They act as messengers carrying information and instructions from one group of cells to another. Hormones control many of the body’s functions, including how you grow, develop and reproduce. Examples include:

  • the female sex hormones oestrogen and progesterone, which control ovulation and menstruation
  • the male sex hormone testosterone, which causes the development of the reproductive organs and other sexual characteristics, such as a deep voice and facial hair
  • thyroid hormones, including thyroxine, which control the body’s metabolism.

What is hormone therapy?

Hormone therapy uses synthetic hormones to block the effect of the body’s natural hormones. The aim is to lower the amount of hormones the tumour receives. This can help reduce the size and slow down the spread of the cancer.

Hormone therapy may also be called endocrine therapy or hormone-blocking therapy.

The treatment may be given as tablets you swallow or injections. For some cancers, you may have surgery to remove a part of the body to stop the production of hormones, e.g. your ovaries may be removed to stop the production of oestrogen.

Hormone therapy to treat cancer is not the same thing as hormone replacement therapy (HRT). HRT supplies the body with hormones that it is no longer able to produce naturally and is often used to treat the symptoms of menopause. People who have had their whole thyroid removed will also need hormone replacement therapy as their body no longer produces thyroxine. Learn more about thyroid hormone replacement therapy.


When is hormone therapy given?

Hormone therapy is usually used with other cancer treatments:

  • before surgery or radiation therapy to shrink a tumour
  • after treatment to reduce the risk of the cancer returning
  • to slow the growth of cancer that has spread throughout the body and help manage symptoms.

What are the side effects?

Hormone therapy is a systemic treatment, which means it can affect cells throughout the body. As each hormone in the body has a specific function, altering the balance of hormones in the body can cause side effects. Whether or not you experience side effects, and how severe they are, depends on the type of hormone you are taking, the dose, and how long you take the treatment. Talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of taking hormone therapy.

Common side effects include tiredness, hot flushes, mood changes, weight gain and sweating. Hormone therapy can also affect the fertility of both women and men, bring on menopause, and have an impact on your sexuality.

Hormone therapy may also cause bones to weaken and break more easily (osteoporosis). Talk to your doctor about having a bone density test or taking medicine to prevent your bones from becoming weak. Regular exercise, eating calcium-rich foods (e.g. yoghurt, milk, tofu, green vegetables) and getting enough vitamin D will also help keep your bones strong.


Hormone therapy for breast cancer

Around 70–80% of breast cancers are sensitive to the hormones oestrogen (ER) or progesterone (PR). This means that these hormones may be helping the cancers grow. These cancers are called hormone receptor positive (ER+ and/or PR+), and they are likely to respond to hormone therapy that blocks oestrogen.

There are different ways to reduce the level of female hormones in the body, including anti-oestrogen drugs, aromatase inhibitors, and ovarian treatments. The choice will depend on your age, the type of breast cancer and − for women − whether you have reached menopause.

Learn more about Hormone therapy for breast cancer


Hormone therapy for cancer of the uterus

Some cancers of the uterus grow in response to oestrogen. Hormone treatment may be given if the cancer has spread or if the cancer has come back, particularly if it is a low-grade cancer. It is also sometimes offered in the first instance if surgery is not an option, for example, for women who still want to have children. The main hormone treatment for oestrogen-dependent uterine cancer is progesterone.

Learn more about Hormone treatment for cancer of the uterus


Androgen deprivation therapy for prostate cancer

Prostate cancer needs testosterone to grow. Testosterone is an androgen (male sex hormone), so hormone therapy for prostate cancer is called androgen-deprivation therapy (ADT). This treatment slows the production of testosterone, which may slow the cancer’s growth or shrink it temporarily. ADT may be recommended for locally advanced or advanced prostate cancer.

Learn more about Androgen deprivation therapy for prostate cancer



We thank the reviewers of this information:

Prof Declan Murphy, Urologist and Director of Genitourinary Oncology, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; A/Prof Nicholas Wilcken, Director of Medical Oncology, Westmead Hospital Sydney, NSW; Anne Brooks, Consumer; David Hodgson, Consumer.

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Why men with cancer need improved emotional support throughout their cancer experience

July 2019

The focus on men’s physical health in preventing cancer is important, but it’s also critical that we promote men’s emotional health, particularly for those living with cancer.

It is normal for people to experience many different thoughts and feelings during their cancer journey, ranging from shock, anxiety or anger, all the way through to fear and loneliness. Whilst it is common for us to accept that men and women may handle these emotions in quite different ways, men are often portrayed as having less distress, less depression and less anxiety throughout the cancer journey, and therefore less need of mental and emotional support.

Many of our current distress assessment tools have been predominantly developed in studies with women with breast cancer and focus more on overt emotions as cues to distress. This means that often health professionals are less well equipped to recognise some of the less obvious signs of emotional and mental distress in men. Even though more men today are reaching out for help, others still internalise the emotions they might experience when going through difficult experiences, perhaps believing that admitting vulnerability makes them “less of a man".

Don’t get me wrong, anyone diagnosed with cancer, regardless of gender identity, deserves support. But in my experience men are less likely to seek out support when they need it most – a reality evidenced by the fact that out of all people who called Cancer Council 13 11 20 for emotional support last year, only 20% were male.  

For example, prostate cancer,  the second most common cancer diagnosed in men, has a very high survival rate, but the side effects of the treatment and the cancer itself ( including impotence, incontinence and bowel problems) often mean that men feel there is a stigma attached to their diagnosis – making it difficult for them to talk about their experience and tackle some of the mental and emotional impacts of those side-effects.

The prevalence of this issue and the importance of helping men is why we are incredibly proud of the work of Cancer Council researchers working in this space, like Associate Professor David Smith, at Cancer Council NSW. His work has been instrumental in helping men open up about their difficult cancer experiences to facilitate the development of resources and guidelines to support both doctors and men going through prostate cancer.

This, however, should not be seen as an incentive to encourage people to place stereotypes on men. We should instead try to normalise the fact that being diagnosed with cancer is a major life-changing event, regardless of your gender, or whether your prognosis is good or not. It makes you re-evaluate your place in the world, your security and your future plans. Part of our challenge now, is to envision the different ways in which we might empower male cancer patients and health professionals to better recognise the less obvious signs of a need for emotional support - and reach out. Our primary focus needs to move away from talking therapies and embrace broader approaches that recognise men’s need for support to occur in more active ways.


If you, or a loved one you know, are struggling with the impact of your cancer journey, Cancer Council provides a free, confidential helpline (13 11 20) staffed by trained nurses to answer your questions about cancer and offer emotional or practical support. Alternatively, Cancer Council also runs a free and confidential telephone peer support service (Cancer Connect), which will pair you up with a volunteer that can help you talk about your shared experiences and offer emotional support as well as advice on the best ways to cope.

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eLearning

July 2019

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June 2019

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June 2019

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Doubletree by Hilton Darwin Poolside Garden Party

May 2019

Saturday 1 June 2019

3 pm

 

Doubletree by Hilton Darwin are once again hosting the Poolside Garden Party in support of Cancer Council NT and Australia's Biggest Morning Tea.

Be treated to an afternoon of entertainment, raffles and delicious food Saturday June 1st.

Follow the link to purchase your tickets now! 

https://secure.cancercouncilfundraising.org.au/registrant/startup.aspx?eventid=52056

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CEO

May 2019

Tanya Izod, CEO

Tanya Izod is a third generation Northern Territorian (NT) with more than twenty-five years’ experience working in the medical industry, specialising in aero medical and emergency services across both private enterprise and NT Government. Tanya is the Managing Director of Tanya Izod & Associates and has extensive experience in the areas of contract management, procurement and tendering, performance review and project management extending across commercial and Government enterprises. Formally, as General Manager of CareFlight Northern Operations, Tanya held direct management of the Top End Medical Retrieval Service, providing emergency medical evacuations across the Top End of Northern Australia. Prior to joining CareFlight, Tanya spent eleven years in NT Department of Health, during which time she managed the development of a new model for NT aero medical services, which resulted in the first fully integrated aero medical service in Australia and the first Helicopter Rescue Service in the Northern Territory. Prior to her entry into the NT Public Sector, Tanya spent 11 years in Ansett Australia (NT) where she worked in operations management, tendering/procurement and sales and marketing. She has well-established professional networks within the NT Government and non-government organisations, and strong links to the Territory, its families and history.

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Media releases

May 2019

Latest from Cancer Council Australia
31 July 2019

Australia’s disadvantaged fall behind in bowel cancer

New Cancer Council analysis has shown Australians living in our most disadvantaged areas have significantly higher bowel cancer incidence rates and are being left behind in bowel cancer screening, compared to the most advantaged Australians.

3 June 2019

Cancer Council asks, “5.5 million poo tests. Have you had yours?”

50-54 year olds neglecting to participate in National Bowel Cancer Screening Program

31 May 2019

Survey finds worrying increase in popularity of roll-your-own tobacco amongst Australian teens

Latest stats show that teenage smoking rates have declined, but roll-your-own tobacco remains a threat

2 May 2019

Cancer Council: Labor commitment to tackling obesity, alcohol could help prevent thousands of cancer cases

Federal Labor’s election commitment to addressing Australia’s growing obesity problem and risky alcohol consumption could help prevent thousands of cancer cases according to Cancer Council Australia. 

13 April 2019

 Opposition’s skin cancer prevention campaign would save lives and money

Getting slip, slap, slop, seek, slide back on the agenda

The federal Opposition’s plan for an $8.6 million national sun protection awareness campaign would significantly reduce the social and economic costs of skin cancer, according to Cancer Council Australia.

11 April 2019

Cancer charities welcome Opposition’s $10m plan for reducing bill shock

Leading cancer charities have welcomed the federal Opposition’s plan to help protect patients from the shock of unexpected medical costs through a $10 million plan to embed informed financial consent into the health system.

10 April 2019

 Opposition’s $40m plan to revive national anti-smoking campaign could save 55,000 lives

Cancer Council Australia has commended the federal Opposition for its $40 million commitment to revive Australia’s landmark National Tobacco Campaign, which could prevent more than 55,000 deaths and save at least $740 million in healthcare costs.

 05 April 2019

Reducing smoking rates by 10% by 2025 could prevent almost 100,000 lung cancer deaths

Cancer Council calls on governments to revive tobacco campaigns to reduce Australians risk of lung cancer

04 April 2019

Cancer Council welcomes federal Opposition’s ‘landmark’ $2.3b cancer care plan

Cancer Council Australia has welcomed the federal Opposition’s $2.3 billion commitment to reduce cancer inequities through strengthening Medicare and the public hospital system and fast-tracking drug subsidies.

22 March 2019

Closing the gap in Australia's second biggest cancer killer

Cancer Council has launched a new campaign to encourage more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to take part in Australia’s free national bowel screening program.

14 March 2019

Promoting bowel cancer screening key to saving lives and driving health system efficiency

Cancer Council Australia is encouraging all eligible Australians to participate in the nation’s free National Bowel Cancer Screening Program as the best way to prevent bowel cancer deaths and gain new efficiencies in colonoscopy use.

04 March 2019

Cancer Council aims to combat nation’s second biggest cancer killer

With only four in 10 eligible Australians participating in Australia’s National Bowel Cancer Screening Program, Cancer Council has launched an urgent call for more Australians to complete the free life-saving test.

04 February 2019

200,000 cancers could be avoided over 25 years if Australians get active and maintain a healthy weight

New Cancer Council Australia funded research has shown over 200,000 cancer cases could be avoided in Australia over the next 25 years if all Australian adults maintained a healthy weight and met the physical activity guidelines for cancer prevention.

25 January 2019

Peak health bodies recommend new approach to sunscreen use

The peak bodies responsible for sun safety advice in Australia and New Zealand have adopted a new policy on sunscreen use, recommending that people apply it daily as part of a regular morning routine.

18 January 2019

Cancer Council welcomes $10 million Government investment in bowel cancer

Cancer Council Australia has welcomed an unprecedented investment by the Federal Government to help tackle Australia’s second biggest cancer killer – bowel cancer.

18 November 2018

Tanning teens still seek the sun

New research released today by Cancer Council Australia has shown the message that there's nothing healthy about a tan is still not reaching the majority of Aussie teens, with an alarming 62% saying their friends think a tan is a good thing.

15 November 2018

Cancer charities call for better disclosure on cost of treatment

Australia's leading cancer charities have joined together to call for greater commitment and transparency from doctors and healthcare providers to help inform patients about the cost of cancer treatment.

01 November 2018

Cancer Council Australia Welcomes Singapore's Standardised Packaging Tobacco Reforms

Australia's leading cancer charity, Cancer Council Australia has congratulated a move by the Singaporean Ministry of Health to introduce standardised packaging and enlarged health warnings on tobacco products.

03 October 2018

Australia set to eliminate cervical cancer by 2035

Australia is set to become the first country in the world to eliminate cervical cancer following the success of the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccination program and the changes to the National Cervical Screening Program.

25 September 2018 Australian Cancer Atlas unpacks cancer burden by locality

Australians can now discover the impact of cancer in their suburb or town, with the launch of a new cutting-edge Australian Cancer Atlas.

25 September 2018

Australia must lead on UN plan to cut chronic disease deaths by one-third by 2030

Health groups are urging the Australian Government to step up its commitment to chronic disease prevention, as world leaders prepare for a UN High-level Meeting on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) this week.

10 August 2018

Cancer Council commends change to food labelling system

Australians will be able to make more informed choices when selecting packaged foods and drinks, thanks to an improvement to the Health Star Rating food label system announced by all Australian and New Zealand governments.

1 August 2018

$388 billion reasons to get anti-smoking campaigns back on the public agenda

 newstudy estimating that smoking causes $388 billion in long-term productivity losses in Australia should be a wake-up call to get anti-smoking mass media campaigns back on the public agenda, Cancer Council Australia said today.

27 July 2018

Aussie men urged to be aware of head and neck cancers

With estimates suggesting that over 4,900 Australians were diagnosed with a head or neck cancer last year, experts are encouraging Australians, particularly men, to become aware of the symptoms and risk factors, including tobacco, alcohol and the human papilloma virus (HPV).

25 May 2018

Evidence drives sweeping changes to melanoma treatment recommendations

Updated national clinical guidelines recommend not performing major lymph node surgery routinely for low-volume melanoma in lymph nodes, and active drug therapies asstandardfor advanced melanoma.

9 April 2018

Celebrate 25 years of Australia's Biggest Morning Tea with Cancer Council

For 25 years, Cancer Council's Australia's Biggest Morning Tea has brought together millions of Australians over a cuppa and a bite to eat in support for those affected by cancer. 

19 March 2018

9 in 10 Australians don't know when they need sun protection

Australians could be unknowingly increasing their skin cancer risk, with new data released by Cancer Council today showing that 40 percent of Australians are still confused about which weather factors cause sunburn.

9 March 2018

 Cancer Council welcomes new support for low survival cancers

Cancer Council Australia has welcomed the Federal Government's $10 million investment into research for low survival cancers and diseases. 

1 February 2018

Number of Australians living with or beyond cancer to surge 72% by 2040: 1 in 18 Australians will have a personal history of cancer

Newreport shows that the increase in the number of Australians living with and surviving cancer will lead to almost 1.9 million Australians living with a personal history of cancer by 2040.

 

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