One of the world’s leading medical research institutes has warned Australia needs to take drastic action on the hardest to treat cancers, to help solve the riddle of why more than half of all cancers don’t respond to current treatments.
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The Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research says a tsunami of cancer cases awaits Australia without more focus on research that targets the most stubborn cancers.
Perkins Director Professor Peter Leedman says up to 60% of cancers don’t respond to current treatments and some cancers are showing a dramatic increase, including liver cancer where the mortality rate is expected to spike by 39% by 2030.
“At the Perkins we are in the business of taking on the hardest to beat cancers which we call the recalcitrant ones,” Professor Leedman said.
“The survival rate for many cancers has improved, however perhaps less known is that for some cancers the prognosis remains poor. We are focused on these deadly cancers and we know if we don’t do this work, Australia faces thousands more cancer cases in the future.
“We have made some amazing discoveries in our labs which have changed lives.
“But if we don’t act decisively, we will see harder to treat cancers like head and neck, brain and liver and pancreatic cancer on the rise.
“Our cutting-edge team is on the cusp of some wonderful further positive discoveries, but we need generous community investment and a sustained effort from our team to get there.”
The institute will host Australia’s biggest cycling fundraising ride in October (October 26-27), the MACA Cancer 200, where thousands of cyclists will ride from Perth to Mandurah and back.
The 200-kilomentre ride will start and finish at Perth’s iconic new Optus Stadium, with all funds raised to fast track cancer research that will transform treatment and outcomes for patients.
The MACA Cancer 200 aim to raise $4 million at a time when the direct cost of cancer to Australia’s health system is $4.5 billion.
Perkins Coordinator of Translational Cancer Research Dr Louise Winteringham says fundraising is powering her team towards better treatment and exciting new discoveries.
“Every day in the lab you see encouraging new data, it’s always a positive step towards better treatment or a new cancer drug and that’s what’s so inspiring and keeps all of us coming back to work each day to solve some of these challenging problems.
“We get an incredible feeling being part of something so special like this and that is what participants in the MACA Cancer 200 will also experience.
“Without this ride and the generosity of people who donate, new novel ideas that we have to fight the most difficult cancers and solve problems wouldn’t get started in our lab.”
MACA’s Executive Director of Operations Geoff Baker said MACA is proud to be a major partner of the ride and help fund vital research.
“We are really passionate about supporting the MACA Cancer 200 and the feedback we have each year has been overwhelming.
“We encourage corporate teams to enter and share in what is an amazing spirt and camaraderie around this ride.”
For riders Steve and Jenny Williams, the ride is both personal and inspirational.
“I had prostate cancer and towards the end of my treatment I wanted to give something back to the community, and my oncologist suggested the ride,” Steve said.
“Jenny and I have now done the ride six times, and this is the best two days of my year every year without a doubt.
“I said to my oncologist, ‘this is almost an epidemic, we have to do something’.
“I love getting behind the lab so bright people with a microscope can find some answers.”
Jenny said she had a message for anyone who was worried they might not be fit enough to do the ride.
“When we did our first one, Steve had only just completed his final radiation treatment just days before and he struggled through it and finished.
“We love doing the ride every year, it’s an amazing feeling and we embrace the challenge together.”
Entries are now open for the MACA Cancer 200 and are encouraged from individuals, corporates and teams. The ride takes place on 26-27 October.