Half marathon burn for Rebecca and Charlie

My husband and I currently live in Sydney after spending the past three years in London. We decided that participating in the 2018 Australian Running Festival would be a great way to celebrate our return home. We both enjoy setting ourselves challenges, and the half-marathon is a good opportunity to test ourselves and work on our fitness.

We also have a more serious reason for wanting to do the run next month in Canberra. While Charlie and I were in London, my father passed away quite suddenly after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Sadly, the disease had progressed quickly without being noticed. As anyone reading this will know, it is heart-breaking when a family member dies of cancer. I am fundraising for ACRF in the hope that any money donated means that we are one step closer to stopping all types of cancer.

Just recently, a handful of people in our social circles have either been diagnosed with cancer, or this devastating disease has claimed someone close. It strengthens our motivation even more to contribute towards cancer research.

There has been an enthusiastic response from friends, family and work colleagues to our upcoming run and to our raising funds for ACRF. I would encourage others who want fundraise in the same way to pick an event and get involved. You will have the incredible achievement of finishing a marathon, and it’s a chance for anyone to cheer you on by making a donation. And if further incentive is needed, you will be running to help wipe out cancer!

 

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Anna combines love of swimming and fundraising

I am a registered nurse and worked in hospital oncology units and hospices where most patients were very unwell or receiving treatments for cancer. Now working in general practice, I continue to see and care for patients and families affected by cancer.

In 2016 my close friend Lynn Cain was diagnosed with advanced stomach cancer; it was heartbreaking to watch Lynn suffer and deteriorate despite treatment and trials. She died just 13 months after diagnosis, leaving behind her 15-year-old son.

Lynn’s death reinforced what I already knew – continuing cancer research is the only way forward. We need to make more progress with finding effective remedies that offer hope, so it’s important to support organisations like ACRF which are funding research.

My love of the ocean and swimming has resulted in doing several long races over the past ten years and fundraising as well. Taking part in this year’s Rottnest Channel Swim would be different though; the swim would be done in Lynn’s memory and I was completely motivated to succeed. Having participated in the 20km open water solo swim event two years ago, doing it again was achievable if I could put in the training which begins six months before. That goal kept me getting up at 4:50 am most mornings to do squad training at the local pool and then longer ocean swims during the weekends. My partner and our three teenagers were fantastic support.

The response from all my family across the world, friends and the local swimming community was tremendous, and Lynn’s family and friends were also keen to be involved.

I’m thankful to everyone inspired by my effort and commitment who contributed to my fundraising endeavour. It’s all about putting yourself out there and going for it! And going for cancer research is vital.

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UQ facility sheds new light on cancer growth and behaviour

Researchers will soon understand how to better target cancer treatments with the opening of a new Australian Cancer Research Foundation facility today (Tuesday April 17) at The University of Queensland (UQ).

The $2.3 million ACRF Cancer Ultrastructure and Function Facility, to be opened by Acting Queensland Chief Scientist Dr Christine Williams, will provide unprecedented visualisation of cancer cells and how they multiply and react to their environment and drugs.

Professor Brandon Wainwright, Director of UQ’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB) where the facility is based, said it would provide a vast leap forward in our understanding of cancer.

“This new facility, established thanks to the generosity of ACRF supporters, will allow us to marry our knowledge of the genomics that drive cancer cells with a knowledge of how these cells behave in their microenvironment,” he said.

“The ability to view and track cancer cells will enable us to see, in nearly real time, how healthy cells turn cancerous, the changes in surrounding tissues that allow these cells to spread and how cancer cells respond to their microenvironment, including the presence of therapeutic drugs.

“This knowledge will set us on the path of developing new and improved therapies for cancer, and arm doctors with information that will help them recommend the most appropriate treatment for a patient’s individual cancer.”

The facility houses three microscopes at the cutting edge of imaging technology and represents the first time such imaging capability has been combined with expertise in genomics, cancer models, drug development and the clinic.

ACRF CEO Professor Ian Brown said ACRF is proud to continue to support cancer research at IMB. This is the fourth ACRF grant awarded to the Institute.

“The new microscopes at IMB will allow researchers to observe the structure and function of living cancer cells in real time with unprecedented resolution, giving them the opportunity to optimally target and fine-tune cancer treatments,” Professor Brown said.

“It is our hope that this will assist IMB in making significant contributions to the global understanding of how cancers grow and develop to improve treatments and patient outcomes.”

“Thanks to the generosity of many ACRF supporters – individuals, families, organisations and community groups from around Australia –we are able to award high-impact technology grants to advance research into prevention, diagnosis and treatment of all types of cancer.”

“We are proud of our long standing association with IMB. It is our mission to do everything we can to provide Australia’s best researchers with the tools they need to outsmart cancer.”

The ACRF Cancer Ultrastructure and Function Facility will be located at The University of Queensland’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience in Brisbane, and involves researchers from UQ’s IMB, Diamantina Institute, Faculty of Medicine, and Centre for Microscopy and Microanalysis.

ACRF has provided The University of Queensland a grand total of $19.9 million to all their research facilities since 1999.

Joanne on fundraising journey

“You never know what tomorrow will bring, so walk, run, cycle, sing and dance as much as possible.”

I am a French tourist currently cycling across Australia. Bike touring can sometimes be physically challenging but it is a wonderful way to discover a country, its natural beauty and meet its people. In addition to my passion for cycling and travel, I’m a videographer, age 35, adore my family and good food and continue to be an enthusiastic fan of Doctor Who and Harry Potter.

Cycling the vast distances of Australia first started as a crazy idea (still might be) but as I researched it, the more it seemed possible. I have both the time and the savings to do the trip now and thought why not try?

It also seemed like a good time to raise money for a charity along the way and I chose La Ligue Contre le Cancer, which funds cancer research projects in France. Realising that during my trip I could meet Australians who might want to support my fundraising effort but not want to contribute to a French organisation, I started looking for a cancer charity in Australia. It would have to be one that was national as my plan is to see the whole country and I want to get everyone involved. When I came across ACRF on the Internet, it met all the criteria, one of my Aussie friends vouched for the organization, and there it all started. My goal is to collect $1 per kilometre cycled.

Cancer, like any other disease, makes you feel powerless and angry. I’m not a doctor, a nurse, a researcher or anyone capable of helping people with cancer first hand, but I can raise funds for research. Research is the key to curing cancer and whether it’s medicines, machines, or procedures, we’ve come a long way. I’m hopeful that research will take us even further to ending cancer soon!

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Ann Smith’s story

Star ACRF supporter and volunteer extraordinaire, Ann Smith has suffered her share of loss to cancer. She lost her twin sister Rosemarie in 1993 and more recently her husband John in December 2016.

“It is still very hard to grasp he is gone. When it comes to husbands, John was a Rolls Royce. A fastidious organiser, before he got too sick, John made sure I was well set-up in a new smaller home, close to family and friends.

“He also looked after our Wills and ensured that the cause closest to my heart – Australian Cancer Research Foundation – was mentioned.

Apart from mentioning ACRF in her will, at John’s funeral service, Ann’s daughters arranged for donations in lieu of flowers to go to ACRF.

“I now donate each month via direct debit and my girls are fully supportive of my wishes in my Will”, said Ann.

Ann Smith

Find out more how to leave a gift in your will.

Find out more about leaving a gift in your will

Beads and bracelets raise funds for research

My name is Tiana and I attend St Therese Mascot in Sydney. I’m ten years old and have two older brothers and a younger sister. Making bracelets started as a hobby for me. I was watching Mum make a new bracelet for my sister after it snapped, and I wanted to try making one too.

I like creating bracelets so much that Mum suggested selling them to earn some pocket money, but I decided instead to donate the money to help find a cure for cancer. I didn’t really understand how bad cancer is until my beloved auntie passed away last year, just before Christmas. Auntie Chrissie had cancer for three years, and we were all heartbroken when she died. That’s when I decided to fundraise. I want to help stop cancer in its tracks so others don’t experience the same hurt like my family.

Mum suggested donating money from bracelet sales to ACRF because it supports research that will help find a cure for cancer. People have responded positively and in a very supportive way. They love the variety of styles and colours of my bracelets, and I can custom make them when asked. The bracelets are selling so well locally and on-line that Mum is now helping me make them. It’s exciting to be almost half-way towards achieving my goal of raising $1500.

I believe it is important that others don’t have to feel as sad as our family experienced. Once we get a cure for cancer it will hopefully put an end forever to the suffering.

 

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Sammi Raises $17.5Kfor Cancer Research

Sammi Fearless About Head Shave

I’m a 28-year old chick with a big heart who can talk the legs off a table. I love snowboarding in winter, being a beached whale in summer and having a boogie wherever there’s music.
I don’t have a lot of money to donate to champion the cause for those less fortunate, but I certainly have a lot of hair and no fear about getting it chopped off. My hair will be sent to Variety Children’s to make wigs for kids with cancer or alopecia, and the money raised will go to ACRF.

The decision to fundraise for ACRF came after doing a lot of research, like reading company annual reports, on Australian charities associated with cancer. It can be hard to choose between fundraising for research or for a compassionate cause where you’d see the impact made from your donations straight away. But I particularly liked that ACRF is funding ground-breaking research into all types of cancer, and so much of the donations they receive go straight back into those research projects, as opposed to being used for company operating expenses.

I’ve been motivated to fundraise because so many people in my life have been affected by cancer. Some are now cancer free but some were not so fortunate. Most of them were young and healthy, phenomenal souls who did everything right, but were dealt with something they had no control over.

My advice to anyone else thinking about shaving your head to raise money for charity, don’t be afraid of the scissors! It’s just hair and it will grow back, probably healthier than before. The longer we wait to do something about ending cancer, the more people are going to suffer. Yes, research costs a lot but if we can all help a little, that’s a great start.

 

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PSA testing for prostate cancer is only worth it for some

A recent UK study showed no significant difference in survival between men who had a single prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test – a blood test used to detect prostate cancer – and those who didn’t, after about ten years of follow-up. This was despite the test being responsible for more prostate cancers being diagnosed.

It was the largest ever randomised trial on this question, involving 400,000 men aged 50-69 without prostate symptoms. The findings were in keeping with previously published trials of PSA screening, which, other than one exception, have also shown no improvement in survival.

The prostate-specific antigen is a protein produced by the prostate gland and secreted into semen. It can be measured in the blood as an indicator of diseases affecting the prostate gland. Since the 1980s, PSA tests have been used for the diagnosis and follow-up of prostate cancer. However, its use as a screening test for prostate cancer remains controversial.

What’s the controversy?

PSA testing leads to the diagnosis of some cancers that might never have caused problems and thus would not have been diagnosed based on symptoms. This is referred to as “over-diagnosis”.

This phenomenon is of concern with any screening program, such as mammograms for breast cancer. Over-diagnosis needs to be weighed against the benefits of screening in finding more serious cancers at an earlier and more curable stage.


 

This is further compounded by the fact prostate cancer typically occurs in elderly men. And it can sometimes be a period of many years from when prostate cancer is diagnosed to when it spreads beyond the prostate or becomes life-threatening. This is why it’s often said “men die with prostate cancer rather than of prostate cancer”.

Treatment of indolent prostate cancers isn’t likely to benefit men and is referred to as “over-treatment”.

Some may consider these factors enough to suggest PSA testing for prostate cancer should be abandoned altogether. But the fact remains that an estimated 3,500 men will die of prostate cancer in Australia this year. Many more will suffer symptoms, such as pain from incurable prostate cancer, and undergo treatments such as chemotherapy with serious side effects.

PSA testing remains the best way for the early detection and curative treatment of such aggressive prostate cancer. But more can be done to resolve the dilemma.

Using a PSA test for prostate cancer remains controversial.
from shutterstock.com

Improving on the PSA test

Researchers are looking for tests that can detect aggressive prostate cancer better than PSA testing. A handful of the numerous markers tested have entered clinical (human) use, but none have been shown to perform better than PSA as a screening test.

In current practice, refinements of the PSA, including subtypes of measurable PSA, rates of change of PSA over time, and various scores based on PSA, can be used to more precisely assess a man’s risk of having prostate cancer.

To further optimise the benefits of PSA testing, it needs to be targeted at the appropriate age group, namely 50- to 69-year-old men. Older men (or those with reduced life expectancy because of medical illness) are unlikely to benefit from prostate cancer treatment and should not undergo PSA testing.


On the other hand, men in their 40s (or younger) usually have a very low risk of developing prostate cancer. They should only undergo PSA testing if there is a family history (which confers an increased risk). These recommendations form the centrepiece of clinical practice guidelines developed by the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia (PCFA) in 2016.

It remains uncertain exactly how often PSA tests should be repeated to be most effective. In line with a prominent European trial that demonstrated the greatest reduction in prostate cancer deaths, the PCFA guidelines recommend PSA tests every two years.

If you have an abnormal PSA test

Further steps can be taken after a PSA test to reduce potential harms of over-diagnosis and over-treatment. Firstly, it’s essential to obtain confirmation of the high reading and check whether there’s a cause other than cancer, such as a urinary tract infection, blockage or trauma (even from a long bicycle ride).

If an abnormal PSA reading is confirmed, prostate biopsy is carried out as the definitive diagnostic test for prostate cancer. Infectious risks of prostate biopsy can be mitigated by alternative techniques such as the transperineal approach where the biopsy needle passes through skin rather than through the rectum as is usual. Many Australian centres now use transperineal biopsy.

 

Work from Australian researchers has also shown that magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans may help further refine biopsy accuracy. The use of MRI as an adjunct to prostate biopsy appears to enhance the detection of aggressive prostate cancer and reduce the detection of indolent prostate cancer.

Current use of prostate MRI in Australia continues to have some accessibility limitations, which will hopefully reduce over time. Since MRI results are very dependent on the power of the scanning magnet, the technique of the scan and the expertise of the interpreting radiologist, they are not yet widely available. There are also significant expenses, since a Medicare rebate for prostate MRI is still under review.

After diagnosis

If a man is diagnosed with prostate cancer, it’s important that treatment decisions are tailored individually. Most importantly, low-risk prostate cancers should be increasingly kept under active surveillance, thereby delaying, or perhaps even altogether avoiding, treatment and related side effects.

Conversely, high-risk prostate cancer needs early and aggressive treatment to achieve the best possible outcomes. Currently available methods for working out how prostate cancer might behave draw on information from PSA tests, physical examination, scans and biopsy. Emerging technologies such as genomic tests may help further refine the accuracy of this predictive process.

 

The ConversationAdvances in clinical practice have helped reduce some of the harms of PSA testing while preserving the potential benefits. However, ongoing work is needed to further improve outcomes for men with prostate cancer. There are risks and benefits men need to consider in the process of making an informed decision in consultation with their GP.

Shomik Sengupta, Professor of Surgery, Eastern Health Clinical School, Monash University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Online risk predictor to help identify people at high risk melanoma

Researchers at QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute have developed an online test for people aged 40 and over to predict their risk of developing melanoma over the next 3.5 years.

Professor David Whiteman and Dr Catherine Olsen developed the risk predictor using data from nearly 42,000 people aged from their forties to seventies. It calculates the results based on seven risk factors for melanoma. These are age, sex, ability to tan, number of moles at age 21, number of skin lesions treated, hair colour and sunscreen use.

The melanoma risk predictor was developed from the world’s largest study of skin cancer and has proven highly accurate in tests. A research paper about the development and performance of the risk prediction tool has been published today in the prestigious Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Professor Whiteman said members of the public could now use the risk predictor by visiting www.qimrberghofer.edu.au/melanomariskpredictor.

“At the moment, cancer control agencies don’t recommend population-wide screening programs for melanoma. It’s up to individuals to talk to their doctors about whether they need regular skin checks,” Professor Whiteman said.

“This online risk predictor will help identify those people with the highest likelihood of developing melanoma so that they and their doctors can decide how to best manage their risk.

“Regular screening of those at highest risk may help to detect melanomas early, and hopefully before they’ve spread to the lower layers of the skin and other parts of the body.

“Importantly, in this study, we found that people’s actual risk of melanoma was quite different to their own assessment. This highlights the importance of getting personalised advice on your melanoma risk, because it could well be different to your perceived risk.”

Professor Whiteman said the team now planned to trial the online melanoma risk predictor among skin cancer doctors and their patients to test how it performs in the clinic.

Melanoma is the fourth most common cancer in Australia. Cancer Australia predicts that in 2018 1,905 people will die from melanoma and 14,320 new cases will be diagnosed nationally.

“Last year a QIMR Berghofer study found that melanoma cost the Australian healthcare system $201 million in 2017,” Professor Whiteman said.

“We hope that by identifying those who might benefit from regular skin checks, the online melanoma risk predictor will help to ease pressure on the healthcare system.”

While other melanoma risk predictors have been developed previously, they were based on research with different study designs and were less accurate.

“We have tested our online risk predictor thoroughly and found that it is accurate at predicting a person’s risk of developing melanoma,” Professor Whiteman said.

“Nonetheless, people should be aware that the tool provides only an estimate of future risk and it is not a substitute for getting their skin checked by a doctor.

“We encourage people to use it as a general guide, and if it says you have a high risk of melanoma, we strongly encourage you to visit your doctor and discuss whether a skin check would benefit you.

“Even if you have a low to medium risk, you still need to be sun safe. Most Australians are at a higher risk of melanoma than people in other countries due to the combined effects of fair skin and very high levels of sunlight.

“If you’re spending time outdoors this weekend, don’t become a statistic: remember to slip, slop, slap, seek and slide.”

Australian Cancer Research Foundation has provided QIMR Berghofer with $8.4 million in funding towards cancer research.

This article was originally published on the QIMR Berghofer website.

Introducing ‘Outsmart cancer for good’ campaign

Australian Cancer Research Foundation is set to release a new campaign, “Outsmart cancer for good” on Sunday 11 March 2018.

The campaign centres around ACRF’s unique approach to outsmarting cancer through funding major state-of-the-art equipment, infrastructure and technology. The aim is to help all Australians understand ACRF’s vital role.

We would like to thank the following organisations for their generous time and support. Without their help, this campaign would not be possible:

M&C Saatchi
Hidden Characters
Bohemia Media
Heckler
Cream Electric Art
Song Zu
Bwise

Also sincere thanks to Redfox Media for bringing this campaign to life across our website.

We thank everyone in the ACRF community for your continued support. We truly appreciate your contribution throughout the years to our shared mission of outsmarting cancer.

The team at ACRF would be most grateful if you could use this opportunity to share/like/ start a conversation to help us elevate our presence on social media – namely, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn – as well as help to make us more known in your workplace and community.

The new campaign will be at the forefront of ACRF activities for the coming years. We welcome your involvement throughout the campaign.

Finally, here is a sneak preview of the campaign – enjoy!

 

 

Donate to Outsmart Cancer campaign

Elimination of cervical cancer in sight

This story was originally published on the Royal Women’s Hospital website.

Cervical cancer could be effectively eliminated within the next 40 years, with Australia set to be the first country, according to the world’s leading cervical cancer experts.

In a statement published in the journal Papillomavirus Research on International HPV Awareness Day, the International Papillomavirus Society (IPVS) has for the first time outlined that cervical cancer could soon be eliminated as a public health problem.

The IPVS is made up of the world’s leading cervical cancer and Human Papillomavirus (HPV) researchers, including Professor Suzanne Garland from the Royal Women’s Hospital and University of Melbourne, and advises the WHO and global policymakers on cervical cancer prevention and screening.

It comes as new research is published showing a dramatic decline in the rates of HPV, the infection that causes about 99.9 percent of cervical cancer, the majority of anal cancer, and a proportion of vulvar, vaginal, penile, tonsillar and back of tongue cancers.*

Professor Garland who is the Director of the Centre for Women’s Infectious Diseases at the Royal Women’s Hospital said Australia would likely be the first country to effectively eliminate the disease; however, ongoing screening and high uptake of the vaccine were key to that being achieved.

“We are forecasting that over the next 30-40 years, rates of cervical cancer will drop from around the current 930 cases a year in Australia to just a few,” she said.

“Our national HPV immunisation program for both boys and girls, combined with our cervical cancer population screening, means we are well positioned to be the first country to effectively end this deadly cancer.”

The latest research from Professor Garland’s team, published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases, is showing that rates of HPV in women has dramatically dropped due to the effectiveness of the vaccination program.

Researchers found that amongst women aged 18 to 24, the HPV rate had dropped from 22.7 percent to just 1.1 percent over the last 10 years. While only 53 percent of women were vaccinated, the ‘herd effect’ had helped deliver a better than anticipated decline. Recent research has also shown a decline in HPV amongst males.

Prior to the vaccination program, almost all sexually active people had contracted HPV.

“If we continue with a successful vaccination program for boys and girls and our population screening for HPV, then we can effectively eradicate this cancer. The research is showing a decline in rates of the cancer-causing HPV; however due to the delay between contracting HPV and cervical cancer developing, we expect it to be a few more years before we see a steep decline in rates of cervical cancer,” Professor Garland said.

The majority of cervical cancers globally happen in the developing world where there are no population screening programs. Around 430,000 women each year are diagnosed with cervical cancer. The cost-effective vaccine is slowly being rolled out in many countries.

The IPVS has highlighted that eliminating the disease globally depends on high uptake of the vaccine in countries across the world, developing and developed.

“The effectiveness of the vaccine and a lower cost is likely to make it possible for us to eliminate the disease in low socioeconomic countries too,” Professor Garland said.

Professor Garland said high rates of screening was crucial to achieving elimination as between 10 and 30 percent of HPV that causes cervical cancer is not covered by the vaccine.

Background:

Very low prevalence of vaccine human papillomavirus (HPV) types among 18 to 35-year-old Australian women, nine years following implementation of vaccination, was published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases, February 2018. The study was led by the Royal Women’s Hospital, University of Melbourne and the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute.

*HPV is linked to 99.9 percent of cervical cancer, 90 percent of anal cancers, 65 percent of vaginal cancers, 50 percent of vulva cancers, 35 percent of penile cancers and 60 percent of oropharyngeal cancers (cancers of the back of the throat, including the base of the tongue and tonsils).

See the International Papillomavirus Society’ statement here.

Thanks to generous donations from our supporters, ACRF contributed to the initial seed-funding of Professor Ian Frazer’s research into the cervical cancer (HPV) vaccine in 1999.