Prof Graham Giles on the Forgotten Cancers Project

Tuesday 25 October, 2011


Professor Graham Giles, Director of our Cancer Epidemiology Centre: The Forgotten Cancers Project is quite a complicated thing, but its intention is quite simple. We recognise that even in our large cohort study we've only got a hundred or so, or less, of these, what we call ‘forgotten cancers'.

So how can we get a large number of these cancers quickly, so we can do research? This is what the Forgotten Cancers Project is all about.

The Epidemiology Centre is a collection of scientists who are called epidemiologists and what we do is do research that is aimed to uncover the causes of diseases in populations. By discovering which lifestyle factors and which genetic factors increase the risk of cancer, we hope in the long term to be able to inform prevention campaigns to prevent them.

We have focused our work in the last few decades on common cancers, like prostate cancer, bowel cancer, breast cancer, lung cancer. We recognise though, that now we've done a lot on the common cancers, we've comparatively neglected the less common ones and we think we should redress that balance.

There are about 15 or 16 cancers that are quite rare that we've targeted and our target is to get about a thousand people with each of them. We hope that over the next year or so we will achieve some of those targets. For at least, say 5 or 6 cancers, we'll be able to get a thousand people volunteering their information and their DNA.

The people we want to recruit are of course those who have one of the 15 targeted ‘Forgotten Cancers'. But we also want to recruit people who will serve as controls, so usually a sibling - a brother or sister - but sometimes it might be a cousin or even a parent or child.

To be able to discover something that might actually have an impact on preventing these cancers in the future, or help survival with these cancers in the future, I mean it's really exciting. That's what we're here for and that's what the Cancer Council's aim and strategy and mission is all about.

The thought of stepping into a new area of research where no-one's really done much before is really exciting. I reflect on the common cancers. Many, many, many researchers are researching prostate, breast and bowel. Not so many - hardly any - are researching the cancers that we're talking about today.

Your donation can help us begin the fight against these less common cancers.
Refer to the prospectus for detailed information on the Forgotten Cancers Project.

The forgotten cancers are:

Bladder cancer, Bone cancer, Brain cancer, Gallbladder cancer, Kidney cancer, Leukaemia, Liver cancer, Multiple Myeloma, Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, Oesophagael cancer, Pancreatic cancer, Small intestine cancer, Stomach cancer, Thyroid cancer, Uterine cancer