Victoria on right track with new Cancer Plan

Friday 22 July, 2016

Cancer Council Victoria has welcomed the latest Victorian Cancer Plan, released today by Victorian Health Minister Jill Hennessy.

The Victorian Cancer Plan 2016-20 is the first developed under the Improving Cancer Outcomes Act 2014, and aims to provide policy leadership and common goals for organisations working in cancer control in Victoria.

The Plan includes:

  • Ambitious goals to save 10,000 lives by 2025 and halve the proportion of Victorians diagnosed with preventable cancers by 2040.
  • A focus on prevention, with the knowledge that as much emphasis needs to be placed on preventing cancer as on treating it.
  • A commitment to ensure implementation of systematic approaches to meet people’s support needs through the Optimal Care Pathway.
  • Concentration on equity and on better understanding and addressing the differences in outcomes for certain cancers, regions and population groups.
  • A strong focus on improving access to clinical trials and accelerating the translation of cancer research into real-life outcomes.

Cancer Council Victoria CEO Todd Harper said the release of the latest Victorian Cancer Plan provides an opportunity to address the significant burden of cancer through long-term investment across all areas of the cancer spectrum.

“While substantial progress has been made to reduce the burden of cancer, we can do better through long-term investment across prevention, early detection, treatment, support, and research,” Mr Harper said.

Mr Harper said thousands of Victorians die every year as a result of cancers that are linked to modifiable lifestyle factor such as tobacco use, being overweight, having a poor diet, misusing alcohol, over-exposure to the sun and inadequate physical activity.

“Obesity and diet will continue to be an area of focus for the Cancer Council in the future, and it is encouraging to see the same commitment from the Victorian Government in the Victorian Cancer Plan,” Mr Harper said.

“Significant proportions of cancer cases are attributable to overweight and obesity, inadequate diet and insufficient physical activity. By investing in prevention measures to curb the rising levels of obesity in our community we can save lives and achieve proven savings to the health system.”

Mr Harper welcomed the focus on supportive care, with the Plan outlining strategies to ensure patients are able to access suitable support services and credible information.

“As the numbers of people living with cancer continues to grow due to an increased and ageing population, there is a need to ensure those who are affected by cancer are supported to navigate an increasingly complex health system,” Mr Harper explained.

While our understanding has increased, Mr Harper said it was encouraging to see the Victorian Cancer Plan included a continued investment in cancer research.

“Continuous improvement in the quality of our prevention efforts, and the support and treatment we provide to our cancer patients is absolutely necessary if Victoria is to continue to be a world class centre of excellence in cancer control,” he said.

Cancer generates Victoria’s largest disease burden. By 2025-2029 it is estimated that nearly 42,000 Victorians will be diagnosed with cancer each while deaths will increase by approximately 20% to more than 14,000 annually, in part due to the growth and ageing of the population.

Cancer Facts:

  • 84 Victorians are diagnosed with cancer every day
  • 29 Victorians die from cancer every day
  • From 1988 – 2013 five-year survival increased from 48% to 67%
  • Cancer mortality rates in Victoria have declined steadily since 1982
  • The most common cancers in Victoria are breast, prostate, bowel, lung and melanoma
  • Five-year survival rates for female breast cancer has increased to 90%
  • Daily smoking rates in Victoria have decreased to below 13% down from 21.2% in 1998