New research showing a 30 per cent gain in five-year cancer survival since 1986 shows evidence-based cancer control programs are working, Cancer Council Australia said today.
Speaking on Daffodil Day (22 Aug), Cancer Council Australia Chief Executive Officer, Professor Ian Olver, said the findings of a new government report on cancer survival and prevalence send three clear messages:
- cancer detection and treatment are improving, thanks to evidence-based approaches;
- more Australians are living with cancer for longer periods and will require support; and
- lack of progress in treating some cancers underscores the ongoing need for research.
“This is the fourth report on cancer survival in Australia in 23 years, with improvements each time and an overall increase in five-year survival of around 30 per cent,” Professor Olver said.
“Sixty-four per cent of Australian women and 58 per cent of men are now alive five years after a cancer diagnosis, compared with 53 and 41 per cent respectively between 1982 and 1986, with particularly good results for patients aged between 50 and 70.
“The findings reflect the effectiveness of early detection and advances in chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery, which are extending the lives of people diagnosed with a range of cancers.”
Professor Olver said the new figures also emphasised the need for programs that provide supportive care for cancer patients and their families. “With 655,000 Australians either living with an invasive cancer or as a long-term cancer survivor, we have to pull together as a community to support individuals and their families through the many difficulties of a cancer diagnosis,” he said.
“The new data also show that we have made very limited progress in treating some complex and aggressive tumours, such as those of the lung, brain, pancreas and cancers of unknown primary source, underscoring the need for more research.”
Professor Olver said the report also showed cancer survival remained lower for Australians in remote areas and for those who are financially disadvantaged, “adding urgency to the need for programs and services that reduce social inequity in cancer care outcomes”.
He commended Cancer Australia, the Federal Government’s cancer control agency, for commissioning the valuable research.
(Source: Cancer survival and prevalence in Australia: Cancer Council: August 2008)