Federal Government funding of $10 million for research into cancers with low survival rates such as lung and pancreatic cancer has been welcomed by the Cancer Council.
The new research funding, announced on 9 March by the Minister for Health, Greg Hunt, is being made available for research grants under the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) Low Survival Cancers and Diseases Grant Opportunity. Applications for the research grants are open until 18 April.
Professor Sanchia Aranda, CEO, Cancer Council Australia said the funding was welcome because low survival cancers received proportionally less research funding than those such as bowel cancer with higher than average survival.
“While overall cancer survival rates are improving, improvements in prognosis are not being seen across all cancer types. For instance, lung cancer is our biggest cancer killer, causing more than double the number of deaths than bowel cancer, which is second on the mortality list. Yet it ranks around tenth on the list of tumour types by joint research investment,” she said.
“Five-year lung cancer survival is only 16 percent and is even lower among disadvantaged populations like Indigenous Australians. This is in stark contrast to the overall 68 percent survival rate for all cancers.”
Professor Aranda said funding for clinical trials would help provide the effectiveness data needed to back patient access to new treatments for low survival cancers
However, there was also a need for health services research to ensure the health system was working to provide access to cancer treatments to all patients regardless of capacity to pay or geographical location, she added.
The funding announcement follows a Senate inquiry into funding for low survival cancers, which made 25 recommendations in its report tabled on 28 November 2017.
The Senate committee recommended more funding for genomic research into low survival cancers and funding for re-purposing existing drugs for treating low survival rate cancers.