About Cancer

Cancer is the second most common cause of death in Australia, with an average of 128 people losing their lives to cancer every day (AIHW 2012).

In 2015, it is estimated that the likelihood of a person being diagnosed with cancer before the age of 85 will be 1 in 2 for men and 1 in 3 for women.  (AIHW 2014).

Current Cancer Research

Bowel Cancer

Bowel cancer is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australia (AIHW 2011).

Regular bowel cancer screening is the best way to detect cancer before symptoms develop, but not everyone likes the idea of – or is medically suited to – traditional faecal occult blood testing.

In one project supported by The Repat Foundation – The Road Home, a research team headed by Dr Erin Symonds, Senior Research Scientist in the Bowel Health Service is investigating a blood test as a screening tool for bowel cancer.

In Australia, the government, through the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program, sends a free bowel cancer screening test to people when they turn 50, 55, 60 and 65 years of age. Two thirds of people however do not complete this test, despite the fact that screening has been proven to prevent cancer development and to allow treatment at an early stage.

Some people are unable to complete a faecal test due to bleeding conditions, such as haemorrhoids or bowel problems from radiation therapy, while other people might not like the idea of sampling from faeces. It is therefore important to have an alternative testing method to help ensure people participate in bowel cancer screening and ultimately enable the detection of bowel cancer at an earlier and more treatable stage.

Prostate Cancer

20,000 new cases of prostate cancer are diagnosed across the country each year, and this is set to increase by about 50 per cent as the Australian population ages.

One project currently underway supported by The Repat Foundation – The Road Home, led by Dr Michael O’Callaghan, Senior Researcher and Educator at the Urology Unit at the Repatriation General Hospital, is looking at men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer but also have other health conditions.

Men diagnosed with prostate cancer are often older and therefore more likely to have a number of other conditions such as heart disease or diabetes. With this in mind, there is a big decision to make, about what types of treatments they will have for prostate cancer.

The current study is linking information from about 9,500 men from the prostate cancer database to state hospital records, which detail admissions data.

By linking the details we have about prostate cancer to hospital admissions data, the researchers hope to create a much more complete picture of the health of each patient, to better inform the treatment choices.

Cancer research is helping clinicians understand more about the types of cancer, treatment methods and cures.
Cancer research is helping clinicians understand more about the types of cancer, treatment methods and cures. Picture: Dr Erin Symonds (Bowel Cancer Researcher).

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