Victorian government backs new cancer projects

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The Victorian government has announced it will invest $1.5 million, along with $1 million from Cancer Council Victoria, to support eight new research projects focused on cancers with poor survival outcomes.

The five-year survival rate for people diagnosed with cancer has increased from 48 percent in 1986 to 68 percent in 2016. 

Low survival cancers are defined as cancers with a five-year survival rate of less than 30 percent. These include cancers of the pancreas, liver, lung, oesophagus, gallbladder, brain and unknown primary, mesothelioma and acute myeloid leukaemia.

These cancers makeup nearly 20 percent of all cancer diagnoses, yet represent more than 40 percent of cancer deaths each year. 

Cancer Council Victoria also announced two post-doctoral fellowships into low-survival cancers, to the amount of $151,000, to support Victorian scientists who have recently completed a PhD.

“We need to do everything in our power to boost survival rates for all cancers. While Victoria has some of the best rates in the world – more research into these low survivor cancers, is central to saving the lives of Victorians,” said Victorian health minister Jill Hennessy.

“We’ve got some of the best cancer research and clinical trials coming out of our state – our goal is to keep saving lives of patients here – and abroad.”

According to Cancer Council Victoria CEO, Todd Harper, “Of the 33,000 Victorians diagnosed with cancer each year, about 24 per cent are told they have a cancer with low survival, meaning they have a less than 50 per cent chance of surviving five years or more after a diagnosis.

“By investing in research we will build the capacity of the Victorian research sector into low survival cancers, grow the critical mass of researchers and, over time, drive improvements in survival.”