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Cancer Council Australia and Childhood Cancer Awareness Month 2017

September 2017

Cancer Council Australia is recognising Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, held in September every year.

The international awareness month focuses on children’s cancers and highlights the need for further research and improved treatments and outcomes for young patients.

Childhood cancers remain the most common cause of disease-related deaths for children aged 0-14 in Australia. Sadly, it is estimated that 650 Australian children aged 0-14 years were diagnosed with cancer in 2016.

The cancer types that are most common in children are different to those which are most common in adults. Children’s cancers are more often found in faster growing tissues such as blood, bone and bone marrow, lymph, muscles, kidney and liver, and as a result, the most common childhood cancers include leukaemia, Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphomas, neuroblastoma, soft tissue sarcoma and kidney cancer.

While childhood cancer is devastating for the child, family and community affected by a diagnosis, there is some positive news: data from the Australian Paediatric Cancer Registry, funded and managed by Cancer Council Queensland, shows that the overall childhood cancer survival rate around the country is increasing.

In Queensland, for example, 86 per cent of children (aged 0-19) will now survive at least five years from diagnosis, up from around 70 per cent in 1986. One improvement of note is the five-year survival rate for lymphoid leukaemia: in the late 1980s, the survival rate was around 59%, but today that has risen to around 93%.

Research from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare echoes the positive trend, showing that more children with cancer are surviving than years gone by.

Those who do survive will often face difficulties with physical and mental health issues in the future, further highlighting the need for more research and support for the families affected.

Cancer Council helps families affected by childhood cancers in a variety of ways while continuing to call for more research funding into the area.

Families affected by childhood cancer are welcome to call Cancer Council on 13 11 20 for information and support, and to get further details about how the organisation can help their family.

Other resources include the Talking to Kids About Cancer publication, which is available as an ebook or a downloadable PDF. The guide gives practical, age-appropriate advice for navigating these difficult discussions with children.

Teachers and those who work in schools can also download the Cancer in the School Community publication, which gives tips for assisting conversations about cancer with children from age four through to the teen years.   

Members of the public can call 13 11 20 to order a hard copy of both these publications.

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Vale Clive Deverall AM

March 2017

Cancer Council Australia extends its condolences to the family of Clive Deverall AM, who died last weekend after almost two decades’ living with a rare form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Clive was a passionate consumer representative on Cancer Council Australia’s Board from 2007 to 2010. For many years prior, he was long-serving CEO of Cancer Council Western Australia, where reforms he led from the late 1970s to the late ’90s continue to be appreciated to this day.

Clive is survived by two sons, a step-son, two grandchildren, a sister and his wife Noreen. Our thoughts are with them; and our thanks, for Clive’s extraordinary contribution to cancer control in Australia.

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Supporting World Cancer Day 2017

January 2017

February 4 2017 is World Cancer Day, a global event coordinated by the Union for International Cancer Control.

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

With the event this year falling on a Saturday, the focus around the globe will be on supporting the event through sport and raising awareness of how physical activity can help reduce your cancer risk.

In Australia, Cancer Council has been selected as the official charity partner for the HSBC Sydney 7’s, which is being held in Sydney over the World Cancer Day weekend.

The event is part of the international HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series and brings people together from around the world.

As well as fundraising at the games by selling programmes, Cancer Council will be using it as an opportunity to remind Australians about how they can cut their cancer risk by taking simple steps like quitting smoking, maintaining a healthy weight and diet, exercising, reducing their alcohol intake, being SunSmart and getting checked.

Professor Sanchia Aranda, CEO, Cancer Council Australia and President of the Union for International Cancer Control says that many Australians may not realise that one in three Australian cancer cases can be prevented.

"This year it is estimated that around 140,000 Australians will be diagnosed with cancer. However, approximately one third of those cases are caused by preventable lifestyle risk factors. Sporting events provide a great opportunity to bring people together and educate communities about cancer prevention and early detection, as well as show support for those directly affected.

"Regular physical activity is one of the most simple ways individuals can reduce their cancer risk and also helps encourage other healthy lifestyle habits, like maintaining a healthy weight and diet and not smoking. Increasingly evidence suggests exercise also has benefits for cancer survivors and those undergoing treatment."

The Union for International Cancer Control is also encouraging sporting groups and individuals to get behind the event by posting a photo related to sport with 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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Vale Professor Umberto Veronesi MD OMRI

November 2016

Oncology surgeon and researcher Umberto Veronesi sadly passed away in Milan this week. Professor Veronesi was a pioneer of modern breast cancer treatment and was widely admired in the global cancer community.

Throughout his life and career he made an extraordinary contribution to cancer control as an oncology surgeon, researcher, director of the Italian National Cancer Institute, founder of the European Institute and Italian Ministry of Health. He also headed up many of the world’s leading cancer agencies including President of the International Union Against Cancer Control, European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer, Federation of European Cancer Societies and more recently set up the Fondazione Veronesi to promote “Science for Peace”.

He was awarded several prestigious awards throughout his career including “Honoris Causa” in Medicine, Medical Biotechnologies, Agricultural Sciences and Pedagogical Sciences from several universities around the world.

Umberto Veronesi authored more than 790 scientific publications and was a champion for public health campaigning against tobacco, promoting healthy lifestyle and much more.

He was particularly noted for his contribution to modern breast cancer treatment where he pioneered conservative treatments of breast cancer, allowing some women with early breast cancer to forgo mastectomy.

Read Professor Veronesi’s full obituary on Cancer Forum.  

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Cancer Council CEO takes on global cancer challenges

November 2016

Sanchia Aranda

Following the conclusion of the World Cancer Congress last week in Paris, Professor Sanchia Aranda, CEO, Cancer Council Australia has officially stepped into the role of President of the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC).

UICC is the largest and oldest international cancer organisation comprising over 1,000 member organisations in more than 160 countries, including the world’s major cancer societies, ministries of health, treatment and research centres, and patient groups. The organisation is dedicated to taking the lead in convening, capacity building and advocacy initiatives that unite the global cancer community to promote greater equity, and to integrate cancer control into the world health and development agenda.

The Hon. Nicola Roxon, Chair of Cancer Council Australia’s board says that the new position reflects Professor Aranda’s standing in the global cancer community, having been elected by her international peers.

“Professor Aranda is not only an esteemed nurse-clinician, cancer researcher and administrator but also recognised internationally as a passionate advocate for effective and equitable cancer prevention, support and care.

“Cancer Council Australia is very lucky to have someone who is so highly esteemed in the global cancer community as our CEO.”

Professor Aranda said one of her key priorities in her new role as President of UICC will be promoting cancer control best practice worldwide and encouraging greater collaboration amongst health experts across all disciplines and those tackling other major diseases.

“Cancer is a worldwide epidemic. Its increasing prevalence and the growing number of preventable cases across the world is a real threat.”

“The risk factors for cancer are shared with many other major non-communicable diseases; for instance, tobacco, poor nutrition, physical inactivity and obesity are also risk factors for cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Health experts need to come together and stop viewing diseases as separate challenges – the goals, strategies and benefits of taking action overlap.”

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New recommendations for best practice care in breast cancer

October 2016

Cancer Council Australia has welcomed a new statement on best practice in breast cancer care released today. The new recommendations, published by Cancer Australia, aim is to reduce variations in breast cancer care for women in Australia, ensuring all patients receive best practice care.

"Some patients are not getting the information they need about the options that are right for them. This unwarranted variation in practice has the potential to have an impact on patient outcomes and experience," said Cancer Australia CEO, Professor Helen Zorbas.

The statement identifies 12 key appropriate and inappropriate practices surrounding priority areas from diagnosis to palliative care.

Cancer Council Australia CEO Professor Sanchia Aranda said, "The new Cancer Australia Statement is important in order to consistently provide a high level of care for breast cancer patients, no matter where they are in Australia. The aim is that health professionals are able to ensure their clinical practice aligns with the evidence to provide care appropriate for each patient."

To view the Cancer Australia Statement: influencing best practice in breast cancer, visit canceraustralia.gov.au/statement.

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

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