Cancer Council Victoria’s (CCV) analysis of a Cancer Australia1 report into cancer research programs identified that low survival cancers with a five year survival rate of ≤30%, receive substantially less research funding compared to high incidence cancers (e.g. breast cancer and colorectal cancer). CCV’s analysis of this report indicated the disparity between low survival cancers and those with high survival is directly related to investment in research funding. Using this definition, low survival cancers include mesothelioma, pancreas, liver, lung, brain and stomach cancer and one in five Victorians were diagnosed with a low survival cancer in 20152. Over the last five years, 48.5% of total cancer deaths in Victoria resulted from low survival cancers2. CCV are concerned about the limited research investment into low survival cancers and the impact this has on survival outcomes for patients.
To advocate for dedicated, long-term research funding for low survival cancers, to address the inequities in research funding investment.
In 2016 CCV formed an alliance with 11 community and not-for-profit organisations to establish the Victorian Low Survival Cancers Alliance, creating a powerful partnership of advocates. The alliance surveyed Victorian clinicians to identify the barriers in undertaking research on low survival cancers. Results were used to communicate these barriers and to advocate for the need for increased investment into low survival cancers research.
The Alliance have undertaken a range of advocacy activities including letters to the Victorian Health Minister and written submissions to the Medical Research Future Fund and the Select Committee into Funding for Research into Cancers with Low Survival Rates. The Alliance will continue to undertake advocacy initiatives to improve funding for low survival cancers, grow the critical mass of researchers and ultimately improve survival outcomes for patients.