50,000 Aussies Sought for Breakthrough Cancer Research

Friday 7 February, 2014

UP to 50,000 Australians will be able to take part in a cancer research study that’s expected to spawn the next generation of scientific breakthroughs.

Beginning this year, the Australian Breakthrough Cancer (ABC) Study will recruit one of the largest cohorts of Australians ever to help researchers uncover new risk factors for cancer and other diseases.

Cancer Council Victoria CEO Todd Harper said the large-scale study would enable researchers to better quantify individual risk factors for cancer and lead to more “precision public health” so prevention programs were targeted to those who need them most.

“We expect the ABC Study will lead to new discoveries in genetic, behavioural and environmental risk factors for cancer and other chronic diseases. This, in turn, will allow us to develop and refine effective ways for people to reduce their risk of being diagnosed with cancer.
“It’s exciting to think of a future where our health messages can be targeted to individuals in a way that gives them greater control over their health.”

Health Minister David Davis said he was proud to be the first person to register for the study today at the official opening of Cancer Council’s new headquarters at 615 St Kilda Road, Melbourne.

“The data gathered will be used by the nation’s leading cancer researchers as they work to undercover new discoveries on the risk factors for cancer and other chronic diseases,” Mr Davis said.

“Our impressive survival rates are a testament to the combined efforts of Victoria’s cancer control sector including researchers, medical professionals, health services, industry partners, peak bodies and consumer groups, screening programs, philanthropists and the thousands of Victorians who raise and donate funds for cancer research and services.”

The Bobbine family is all too familiar with the impact cancer can have across generations.
After losing her father to lung cancer almost 30 years ago, Gaye Bobbine was diagnosed herself with breast cancer in 1999.

Then, at just 22 years-old, her daughter Stephanie faced an aggressive tumour in her cervix. Stephanie’s early diagnosis due to regular Pap smears was a huge factor in saving her life.

Cancer has also affected two of Mrs Bobbine’s aunties, an uncle and three cousins.

“My experience was very different to my father’s thirty years ago, and then my daughter Stephanie benefited from even more advancements when she was diagnosed seven years ago,” Mrs Bobbine said.

“We are lucky that ongoing research and long-term epidemiological studies are having a tangible impact on treatment outcomes and mortality for those diagnosed with cancer in Australia.”

The Cancer Council has already had success with this approach through its Health 2020 study, which recruited 40,000 people in the 1990s. More than 20 years on, the findings continue to inform the development and optimisation of cancer prevention strategies around the world.

That study has produced more than 400 scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals, and provided valuable data to researchers looking into other diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and women’s health.

Cancer Epidemiology Centre Director Professor Graham Giles, who will lead the ABC Study, said it would provide a strong platform for the next generation of molecular epidemiological research; principally in genomics and epigenomics.

“The cohort approach provides the most lasting scientific value for researchers around the world investigating cancer and other diseases. Through the ABC Study we will be effectively laying the foundation for laboratory and clinical research into cancer over the next 20-30 years.”

If you are interested in participating in the study please visit www.cancervic.org.au/abc