Victoria part of solution to Asia-Pacific cancer epidemic

Tuesday 4 February, 2014

Victoria part of solution to Asia-Pacific cancer epidemic
Victoria should play a lead role in cancer control within the Asia-Pacific region to help address the growing burden of cancer and other non-communicable diseases in developing countries.

The region's cancer burden is expected to grow considerably over the next decade to nearly 6.5 million new cases per year, or an increase of 41 percent. On the eve of important global discussions about the epidemic, Cancer Council Victoria CEO Todd Harper said the expertise and resources available in Australia and New Zealand should be shared with organisations around the globe.

"Many of our neighbouring countries have limited resources when it comes to cancer control. So it makes sense to take the significant learning and gains made in Victoria and consider how this could best be applied or adapted elsewhere to progress prevention, support and advocacy on behalf of those impacted by cancer in the Asia-Pacific region."

On the occasion of World Cancer Day, more than 50 health leaders from around the world will gather in Melbourne today for a cancer control roundtable co-hosted by Cancer Council Victoria, the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC).

A new report, launched today by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), shows that as a single entity cancer is now the world's biggest killer . Roundtable talks will focus on identifying the urgent priorities of the region and the potential to coordinate efforts between civil society organisations, the private sector and government bodies.

Representatives will include President of the Cancer Society of Malaysia Dr Saunthari Somasundaram, Cancer Society of New Zealand CEO, Mr Dalton Kelly and World Medical Association Chair of Council Dr Mukesh Haikerwal, as well as staff from the Victorian Department of Health.

Progress from the roundtable will be reported back during the World Cancer Congress in Melbourne in December when more than 2500 cancer control experts and leaders in global health from 110 countries will gather.

Dr Somasundaram said such events were critical: "The region in which we are based is truly unique in that the cancer issues we face vary from country to country. That being said, we all fight a common cause and can therefore greatly benefit from the sharing of best practice and pooling of resources".

Member of the Board of Directors of UICC, and Deputy CEO at the Cancer Institute NSW, Professor Sanchia Aranda also strongly supports regional collaboration.

"The Asia-Pacific region currently represents over 30 percent of all cancer cases so if our countries can work together on improving upon this, it will go a long way towards reducing the global cancer burden as a whole."