Haematologists join forces to develop Australian Cancer Plan

[Correction: The original version of this article incorrectly stated that the Ministerial Roundtable was attended by Professor John Seymour of Peter MacCallum Cancer Institute, representing the Blood Cancer Taskforce. We would like to apologise to Professor Seymour for the error).

Advocates for patients with haematological cancers are among the stakeholders taking part in the first stage of developing an Australian Cancer Plan.

A ministerial roundtable held in Canberra on 22 April to develop a 10-year national cancer plan included groups such as the Leukaemia Foundation, as well as many other cancer care professionals.

The Australian Cancer Plan is being developed by Cancer Australia with the aim of setting out key national priorities and action areas to improve outcomes for people affected by cancer.

CEO Professor Dorothy Keefe said that establishing a plan would help address the disparities in outcomes among cancer types and different population groups.

“The Plan will build on current achievements, investments, capabilities and current evidence, but with a focus on the future of patient centred and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander focussed cancer care,” she said

“It will harness emerging evidence, technologies and innovations to improve outcomes and benefit all Australians affected by cancer.”

The plan would also cover prevention, early diagnosis, treatment and palliative care, she added.

Cancer Australia said it would develop the Australian Cancer Plan in consultation with key stakeholders within two years.

At the roundtable meeting, Minister for Health Greg Hunt announced that oncologist Professor Tracey O’Brien, Director of the Kids Cancer Centre and Head of the Transplant and Cellular Therapies Program at Sydney Children’s Hospital, would serve as Chair of Cancer Australia’s Advisory Council at the Ministerial Roundtable for the Plan.

The idea of a national cancer plan has been a long time in development – a similar Australian Cancer Plan was proposed two decades ago by Kim Beazley when he was opposition health spokesperson.

Since then, calls for a National Cancer Plan have been made by a wide range of groups including COSA, the Cancer Council and the Private Cancer Physicians of Australia.

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