Professor Ian Frazer’s selection as Australian of the Year 2006 recognises that while cancer is an increasingly serious global health issue, scientists can significantly reduce cancer mortality through hard work and innovation.
The President of The Cancer Council Australia, Mrs Judith Roberts AO, said Professor Frazer’s development of a vaccine, shown to prevent cervical cancer, could save the 270,000 lives lost to the disease worldwide each year, especially in developing countries without screening programs. She said The Cancer Council Australia was particularly supportive of the award – not only because it helped to raise the profile of Professor Frazer’s groundbreaking work, but also because he was The Cancer Council Australia’s Vice President.
“Professor Frazer has worked tirelessly for 20 years on the development of the vaccine, which is shown to be 100 per cent effective in preventing persistent infection or disease associated with the subtypes of human papilloma virus that cause almost all cervical cancers,” Mrs Roberts said.
“The fact that Professor Frazer also finds time to make an important contribution as Vice President of The Cancer Council Australia, a not-for-profit, community-based organisation, demonstrates the breadth of his commitment to reducing the impact of cancer.”
Patients will be able to access comprehensive cancer information directly from their general practitioner with a new series of fact sheets launched by The Cancer Council Australia.
The Cancer Council’s CEO, Professor Alan Coates, said GPs were an important source of information for patients who had been diagnosed with cancer or who might have a high cancer risk. “Evidence shows that patients diagnosed with cancer will visit their GP within 24 to 48 hours of diagnosis to get more information,” Professor Coates said.
The fact sheets cover three topic areas: lifestyle and reducing your cancer risk, early detection and after diagnosis. The concise one-page fact sheets are designed for doctors to print off during a consultation.
GP Dr Murray Nixon said the facts sheets would provide patients with very useful information from a trusted source. “It’s important that patients have something to take home to read in their own time,” Dr Nixon said. “When someone has received bad news like a cancer diagnosis, it is very hard for them to take everything in at once. There is also a lot of demand from patients for information about different cancers and how they can reduce their risk, as well wanting information about the different diagnostic tests for cancer.”
The Cancer Council facts sheets will be available directly to doctors using Medical Director clinical software. Medical Director is used by 85%, or around 16,000 computerised general practitioners around Australia. The fact sheets include references to reliable websites and agencies where patients can access more in-depth information.
The fact sheets are also available on The Cancer Council Australia website at:
The Cancer Council Australia has welcomed the recent announcement of the advisory council of the Australian Government’s new national cancer agency, Cancer Australia. The announcement follows the appointment in November 2005 of former AMA President, Dr Bill Glasson, as chair of the council.
Chief Executive Officer of The Cancer Council Australia, Professor Alan Coates, said the advisory council featured a good mix of skills and experience and was set to make a valuable contribution to improved cancer control.
Professor Coates said the announcement by the Minister for Health and Ageing, Tony Abbott, was also an encouraging sign that the establishment of Cancer Australia was gathering momentum.
“The advisory council comprises some of Australia’s leading cancer clinicians, healthcare administrators and experts in a number of other fields, who together can provide advice from a variety of perspectives on policy direction and governance,” he said.
“National cancer control policy should be informed by professionals who care for people with cancer, by those who have a personal experience of cancer and by individuals with an expert understanding of public policy. The advisory council of Cancer Australia covers those areas at the highest level.”
Professor Coates said he was particularly pleased to see a number of appointees linked with The Cancer Council Australia. These include his own successor, Professor Ian Olver, who takes over as Cancer Council CEO in May this year, and three representatives of The Cancer Council’s clinical partner, the Clinical Oncological Society of Australia – Professors David Currow, Christobel Saunders and Sanchia Aranda.
“The Government should be applauded for formally seeking advice from fully independent bodies such as The Cancer Council and COSA, which exist exclusively to improve cancer control through support for the general community and for cancer care professionals,” he said.
This year 10 million people will be diagnosed with cancer worldwide, with this number expected to reach 15 million by 2020. Cancer causes six million deaths each year, around 12 per cent of deaths worldwide.
World Cancer Day (Feb 4) acknowledged the increasing impact of cancer on people around the world and efforts to improve cancer prevention, treatment and care. The International Union Against Cancer launched a campaign to combat childhood cancer, My Child Matters, promoting early detection and equal access to treatment, particularly in the developing world where childhood cancer rates are higher than in developed countries.
Significant advances have been made in diagnosis and treatment of cancer during the past four decades and the good news is that childhood cancer can largely be cured if detected early. Yet children with cancer who live in developing countries have less than a 50 per cent survival rate, as opposed to 80 per cent for children living in developed countries.
The Cancer Council Australia has called on the Australian Government to recognise cancer control as a regional aid priority. Disparities in cancer mortality rates between people in developed and developing countries are particularly acute among children, with unacceptable numbers dying in poorer nations because of limited access to treatment.
The inaugural Cancer Council Australia Sally Birch Fellowship in Cancer Control has been awarded to Dr David Young from the VicHealth Centre for Tobacco Control.
Dr Young will undertake a project in tobacco control, aiming to enhance the tobacco control movement’s ability to translate new scientific knowledge into appropriate actions in the broader community. In particular, it will focus on understanding the evolution of smoke-free places, both as an end in itself, and in order to derive learnings that will, in turn, enable successful engagement with what is arguably the biggest new challenge facing the tobacco control community: the role of what are claimed to be less harmful forms of nicotine.
New position statements
The Cancer Council Australia has issued a new position statement on selenium. Selenium is found in cereals, meat and fish and can help prevent tissue damage caused by free radicals.
The Cancer Council Australia supports the National Health and Medical Research Council recommended dietary intake of 65mg/day for men and 55mg/day for women with an upper intake limit of 400mg/day.
Some studies suggest that selenium may be inversely association with prostate cancer and colorectal cancer, but most of this evidence comes from trials designed to answer questions about other types of cancer. The evidence of a protective role of selenium in other types of cancers is weak and inconsistent. More research is needed before public health recommendations regarding selenium can be made.
Updated position statements
The following position statements have been reviewed and updated:
The Cancer Council Australia’s position statements can be viewed at www.cancer.org.au/positionstatements.
The English cricket team may have taken the Ashes for the first time in over 20 years, but we took their record for the world’s largest morning tea!
Last year was a sad one for Aussie cricket fans but The Cancer Council Australia helped avenge some of our bruised pride by taking the Guinness World Record for the largest simultaneous morning tea, a record formally held by the old enemy.
At last year’s Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea more than 283,000 guests helped to smash the previous mark of 11,760 set by the United Kingdom’s Emerging Role of Sheltered Housing Organisation in 2004.
Last year’s Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea – or should we say the World’s Biggest Morning Tea – raised approximately $7.2 million for cancer research, education programs and support services for those diagnosed with cancer, their families and carers.
On May 25th The Cancer Council will be looking to ensure this record stays where it belongs, right here in the Antipodes, by beating our own record and in doing so ensuring that the English remain a distant second!
But we need the support of the Australian public to make this happen.
“It was only through the hard work of our Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea hosts last year that we were able to break the record and raise much needed funds for our cancer related activities. I would like to congratulate them on their outstanding support and would encourage them and anyone else able to host a party to do so this year,” Alan Coates, Chief Executive Officer of The Cancer Council Australia, said.
If you would like to hold your own morning tea either at the office, at home, or even at school, all you need to do is visit the website www.biggestmorningtea.com.au or call 1300 656 585 and register as a host.