New focus on cancer a giant step forward

Wednesday 11 July, 2007
The announcement today of the launch of the Victorian Cancer Agency, a new State Government funded organisation, has been welcomed by The Cancer Council Victoria.

Cancer Council Victoria Director, Professor David Hill, said the decision to establish the new agency was a giant step forward in cancer research and care for all Victorians.

"The totally new, and very welcome initiative of the State Government to establish the Victoria Cancer Agency will greatly strengthen capacity in Victoria to fight cancer," he said.

Professor David Hill said he was also pleased the Agency recently occupied space at 1 Rathdowne Street at the Cancer Council Victoria's headquarters in Carlton because it would further enhance collaboration between researchers, clinicians, government and industry involved in cancer control.

"The Agency will be co-located not only with the Cancer Council's epidemiology, behavioural, tobacco control, and clinical research centres but will also be joined by the Victorian Cancer BioBank, and the Melbourne office of Cancer Australia, an initiative of the Commonwealth Government," he said.

"We are very pleased that Minister Pike has made a priority of ensuring the government and non-government sectors can work effectively together through this arrangement," Professor Hill said.

As background, nearly 24,000 Victorians are diagnosed with cancer each year (excluding non-melanocytic skin cancers) and about 9,500 Victorians die from cancer each year.

Cancer is more common in men than women (120 men per 100 women diagnosed): this is mainly due to an excess of tobacco-related cancers.

However in Victoria, overall cancer survival has increased from 48% in 1990 to 61% in 2004 and from 58% to 61% in the last five years: a 3% increase based on a report titled, "Cancer Survival, Victoria 2007", which estimates patient survival in 2004 (and comparisons with earlier periods).

The report shows that over 60% of Victorians diagnosed with cancer will not die from their cancer within five years from their diagnosis and that survival continues to improve with advances in treatment and earlier detection. The major findings from the report show cancers with highest five-year survival were: testis (99%), thyroid (93%), melanoma (90%), breast (87%), uterus (84%), prostate (84%) and Hodgkin lymphoma (82%).

Cancers with the lowest five-year survival were pancreas (5%), mesothelioma (5%), liver (10%), lung (11%) and cancers of unknown primary site (11%). 

More information on the Victoria Cancer Agency launch is available from the Premiers Press Office -03 9651 5799 or www.dhs.vic.gov.au/hs.html