News and announcements

New data highlights urgency in bowel cancer screening

New data on bowel cancer screening released in June highlights the urgent need to fully implement screening for all Australians over 50, according to Cancer Council Australia.

An analysis of bowel cancers by Biogrid Australia shows the current screening program, limited to three age groups, has found double the number of bowel cancers at the most curable stage, compared with cancers found after reporting of symptoms.

“This data shows how effective a national screening program can be, yet the program is currently only available to 50, 55 and 65 year-olds,” said Cancer Council Australia CEO Professor Ian Olver. “Five million Australians are missing out on a test that could help save their lives.”

According to the data, 41 per cent of cancers found through the program were at the most curable stage (stage A), compared with just 18 per cent found through testing people reporting symptoms.

Launching a new Cancer Council campaign – Get Behind Bowel Screening ( – which calls on the Government to extend screening to all Australians aged 50 and over, Professor Olver said the Biogrid data showed that bowel cancer screening found the majority of bowel cancers early, when treatment had the best chance of success.

Save Your Skin message scorches Bondi

Cancer Council hit Bondi Beach in February for a unique SunSmart promotion. To demonstrate the power of the Australian sun, Cancer Council volunteers handed out hundreds of red apples scorched with the message ‘Save Your Skin’, along with sunscreen samples.

Grown in a shady orchard over previous weeks, the sun still easily scorched the campaign message on to the skin of the apples.

The promotion reinforced to sunbathers how easy it is to get sunburnt.  Sunburn can occur in as little as 15 minutes – even on mild days when UV radiation still penetrates clouds. Sunburn causes skin damage and increases the risk of developing skin cancer.

Cancer Council Australia CEO, Professor Ian Olver, said skin cancer incidence was on the rise in Australia. “Two in every three Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer before the age of 70, and 1600 Australians die from it each year,” he said. “Yet most skin cancer is preventable by being SunSmart.”

Advertising agency Euro RSCG Australia created the idea of using apples to convey the message, and executed the promotion pro bono.

Millions of dollars gained, thousands of cancers avoided through skin cancer campaign

The Australian Government’s skin cancer awareness campaign would return $2.32 for every $1 invested and prevent around 69,000 skin cancer cases over the next two decades, according to new research commissioned by Cancer Council Australia and the Australasian College of Dermatologists.

Cancer Council Australia Chief Executive Officer, Professor Ian Olver, said the report, Skin cancer prevention: a blue chip investment in public health, made a “compelling case” for the Government to re-commit in the budget to an ongoing skin cancer prevention campaign.

Conducted by Melbourne’s Deakin University, the study evaluated the results of previous campaigns against projected growth in Australia’s skin cancer burden, showing returns to government through reduced health costs of $2.32 for every $1 invested and net gains to the general economy of $90 million over 20 years.

“An annual skin cancer prevention campaign is one of the best public health buys available to government – yet there is no funding commitment beyond the 2008-09 summer,” Professor Olver said.

Report co-author, Professor Rob Carter, said the gains could be achieved through a relatively modest investment of around $8m a year. “Set against an annual $290m skin cancer medical bill, this is a strong government investment,” he said.

Honorary Secretary of Australasian College of Dermatologists, Dr Stephen Shumack, said the analysis showed an ongoing skin prevention campaign could prevent 20,000 melanoma and 49,000 non-melanoma skin cancer cases over the next 20 years.

New NHMRC alcohol guidelines reduce your cancer risk

Australian men who drink alcohol should reduce their cancer risk by adhering to new National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) guidelines and limit their daily intake to no more than two standard drinks, Cancer Council Australia said in March.

Commenting on the NHMRC’s new Australian alcohol guidelines for low-risk drinking, Cancer Council Australia’s Chief Executive Officer, Professor Ian Olver, said adhering to the new guidelines, which halved the recommendation for men in the previous guidelines, would significantly reduce cancer risk.

“More than 2800 Australians are diagnosed with alcohol-related cancers each year and around 1400 die as a result,” Professor Olver said.

“Any alcohol consumption carries some cancer risk, and the more you drink the higher the risk. Alcohol may seem an accepted part of Australian cultural life, but people need to know that drinking incurs a significant cancer risk. Moderating consumption means moderating risk.”

Professor Olver said alcohol increased the risk of cancers of the mouth, throat, oesophagus, bowel, liver and female breast. There was no evidence of alcohol consumption having a protective effect against any cancer.

Halving the recommended daily limit from four drinks to two for Australian men should send a message that drinking can cause serious short and long-term harm.

“While Cancer Council Australia would have preferred the recommended daily limit for women to have been reduced from two standard drinks to one, the guidelines are a big step in the right direction,” Professor Olver said.

New data reveals a key way to reduce smoking rates and save money

Almost three-quarters of smokers (74%) say they would try and quit the habit if cigarette prices increased by 50% according to new research released in April.

The research, from Cancer Council Victoria, also reveals 6 out of 10 regular smokers say they would smoke fewer cigarettes if tobacco prices were to go up by 50%. Increasing price by 50% would see a typical packet of 30 cigarettes retail at around the $20 mark.

“With tobacco claiming 15,000 Australians lives and costing the community $31.5 billion dollars every year it is critical that proven tobacco control strategies, such as price increases, are implemented as soon as possible,” said Quit’s Fiona Sharkie.

Professor Ian Olver from Cancer Council Australia said by increasing the cost of cigarettes, the Australian Government would be adopting an effective measure to ‘close the gap’ in health inequalities.

“Research illustrates price increases not only reduce the number of people smoking but also the amount smoked by remaining smokers, with greater drops observed among those in economically disadvantaged groups.”

NBOCC’s revised Guide for women with early breast cancer now available

NBOCC’s eagerly anticipated revised Guide for women with early breast cancer is now available to order online.

Based on NBOCC’s Clinical practice guidelines for the management of early breast cancer, this thoroughly revised version of the consumer guide incorporates the latest evidence in a new, user-friendly spiral bound format.

The resource provides information to support women with early breast cancer in making decisions about their treatment and care, as well as advice for family and friends. It walks women through every step of their cancer journey and is broken down into five key areas: Breast cancer: the facts; Making sense of test results; Treatment; When treatment is over; and Finding support.

NBOCC is seeking feedback on the revised style and content of the Guide for women with early breast cancer. To access NBOCC’s online feedback form, visit

To order the guide, visit or call 1800 624 973.

A Call To Arms in July…

This month, sporting clubs across Australia will unite to take on their toughest opponent yet – cancer – as the annual Call To Arms fundraiser comes thundering on to a playing field near you!

Players from all walks of life and all codes will don a yellow armband in a show of support to men who have survived cancer, those facing the cancer fight and in remembrance of mates who have lost their lives to this terrible disease.

Whether you play Rugby, AFL, soccer, netball, cricket, basketball or just about any ball sport, you can help raise vital funds to prevent and detect cancers in men, find new treatments and support Cancer Council’s research, education and support programs.

Professional clubs taking part this year include co-founders, Essendon Football Club, along with the Adelaide Crows, West Tigers, Adelaide United FC and NRL Tigers, as well as Socceroos star, Tim Cahill.

Register at or call 1300 65 65 85.

Does yellow make you happy?

If you like giving flowers, or receiving flowers and you think the one in two people who get cancer is one too many, then this August Cancer Council is asking you to buy a daffodil for Daffodil Day (Friday 28th).

You can help beat cancer by purchasing a Daffodil Day gift, such as a daffodil pin (ranging from $5-$50), branded pen ($5), mini soccer ball ($7), sparkling diamante pin ($10), cuddly Dr Dougal Bear ($10) or a branded USB ($30).

Funds raised support cancer research, prevention programs and support services for cancer patients and their families.

You can also register to join the thousands of Australians who volunteer to help sell Daffodil Day merchandise. Visit or phone 1300 65 65 85 for more information.

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