With over 300,0001 Victorians diagnosed with cancer since Daffodil Day began 15 years ago, The Cancer Council Victoria is urging people to buy a daffodil on Friday 22 August, and send a message of hope to all those affected.
Director of The Cancer Council Victoria, Professor David Hill, said despite rising incidence figures due to Australia's ageing and growing population, there were many achievements in the past 15 years worth celebrating - several of which had been made possible by fundraising events like Daffodil Day.
"Overall survival from cancer is now 13% higher than it was 15 years ago2 , and rates continue to improve with advances in treatment and earlier detection," Professor Hill said.
"Our increase in cancer knowledge is a direct result of research, and since our first Daffodil Day back in 1993, there has been much we have learned about cancer to be proud of.
"For example, one major life-saving breakthrough has been the development of a simple and effective screening test for bowel cancer. Bowel cancer kills more than 80 Australians each week, yet a faecal occult blood test (FOBT) can find the disease at a stage when 90% of cases can be cured.
"The Cancer Council has campaigned hard to make bowel cancer screening available to all Australians over 50, and in 2006 the Government launched the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program. To complement the gradual roll-out of the program here in Victoria, we have made it possible for everyone over 50 and not yet eligible for the national program, to order an FOBT direct from the Cancer Council, an initiative which has the potential to save hundreds of lives each year.
"Likewise, cervical cancer incidence has almost halved in Australia since the introduction of the National Cervical Screening Program in 19913 and death rates have followed the same trend.
"We know that Pap tests save lives, and PapScreen Victoria, a program of the Cancer Council, works hard to ensure women are aware of the need to have two-yearly Pap tests.
"The discovery of the human papilloma virus vaccine - which is the world's first ever cancer vaccine, is another remarkable breakthrough. After becoming available in Australia last year, it now creates a dual approach to cervical cancer prevention and we expect to see further significant reductions in cases of cervical cancer in future generations of women.
"While it is highly preventable, Australia has the highest rate of skin cancer in the world, and is our most expensive cancer. The Cancer Council's programs such as SunSmart, however, have been instrumental in educating people of all ages about the steps they can take to reduce their skin cancer risk.
"The number of people in metropolitan Melbourne who wear hats during outdoor activities has increased from 31% to 41%4 , and since 1993, 85% of Victorian primary schools have become SunSmart schools.
"Another highly preventable cancer is lung cancer, and tobacco control has been a key focus for the Cancer Council. The results of this investment are significant - for example, the number of Victorian adolescents who smoke has decreased by 40% in the last 15 years.5
"While much has been achieved in the fight against cancer, there is still much to be done. Ongoing investment in research is paramount if we are to continue making discoveries, and many of our education and support programs simply would not be possible without financial contributions from the public," Professor Hill said.
In Victoria alone, nearly $20 million has been raised since Daffodil Day began. All funds support the Cancer Council's research, education campaigns and support services for people affected by cancer.
"Buying a daffodil on Daffodil Day provides hope - hope that one day we will find the answers needed to end the fight," he said.
Daffodil Day is on Friday 22 August 2008. Who will you buy a daffodil for?
- Canstat: Cancer in Victoria 2005
- Cancer Survival in Victoria, CEC Report
- Cervical screening in Australia 2005 - 2006, The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report, May 2006.
- Unpublished data from National Sun Protection Survey. This statistic is not to be requoted in reports of any kind. It is accurate at the time of this media release but may alter pending further analysis.
- ASSAD DHS Report, 2005
Things we have learned about cancer, its prevention and support offered since the first Daffodil Day 15 years ago.
- 13% more people are surviving cancer 5 years after they have been diagnosed (Source, Cancer Survival in Victoria, CEC Report)
- The number Victorian adolescents who smoke has decreased by 40% (22.25% in 1990, 13.5% in 2005), decreased by 8.75%) (Source: ASSAD DHS Report, 2005)
- The number of regular smokers in Victoria has decreased by a third (25.7% in 1992 to 17.3% in 2007) (Source: RPS & Quit Evaluation Studies 1992-1993)
- The number of Victorians who wear a hat when outside on Summer weekends has increased by 18% (Source: Dobbinson SJ, Wakefield MA, Jamsen KM, Herd NL, Spittal MJ, Lipscomb JE, Hill DJ. Weekend sun protection and sunburn in Australia: Trends (1987-2002) and association with SunSmart television advertising. American Journal of Preventive Medicine 2008; 34: 94-101)
- The number of people (in the metropolitan area) who wear hats during outdoor activities has increased from 31% to 41% (Unpublished data from National Sun Protection Survey. This statistic is not to be requoted in reports of any kind. It is accurate at the time of this media release but may alter pending further analysis)
- Cervical cancer incidence has almost halved in Australia since the introduction of cervical cancer screening (Source: Jenny Anderson & Robyn Mullins, PapScreen)
- The discovery of the human papilloma virus as the cause of some cancers, including almost all cases of cervical cancer
- The discovery that obesity increases the risk of several types of cancer
- The discovery that several common genetic variants have been shown to influence the risk of prostate, breast and colorectal cancer
- Members of the Cancer Council's Victorian Co-operative Oncology Group recruited patients in clinical trails including ‘Trastuzumab (Herceptin®) Effective in Early Breast Cancer' which found breast cancer was half as likely to come back in patients who received the drug trastuzumab (Herceptin®) for a year after completing chemotherapy than in patients who received chemotherapy alone (Source: Clinical trial highlights from ASCO Annual Meetings 2003 - 2008)
- Fifteen years ago the national breast cancer screening program was only one year old. Fifteen years later, almost 700,000 women aged 50-69 have had a free mammogram through BreastScreen (Source: BreastScreen)
- Quitline receives nearly 5 times the volume of calls (4,680 calls in 1992 & 23,006 calls in 2007)
- Calls to the Cancer Council Helpline from the Victorian community have grown by 201% (11,950 calls in 1993 & 36,000 calls 2007)