Report in to Funding for Low Survival Cancers Submitted to Parliament

The GI Cancer Institute welcomes the report from the Senate Select Committee investigating research funding for cancers with low survival rates, which was tabled in Parliament on Tuesday 28th November by Senator Catryna Bilyk.

We were pleased to contribute to this Inquiry on behalf of GI Cancer patients through our submission and appearance at the Sydney Hearing. Representing the GI Cancer Institute were Jan Mumford – CAP Chair, Dan Kent – Board Member & prior CAP Chair, Prof. John Simes – Board Member & Group Coordinator, James Armstrong & Julie Marker – CAP Members, and Russell Conley, CEO. For a copy of our full submission CLICK HERE.

GI Cancers have some of the lowest 5-year survival rates and across all 10 GI cancers the 5-yaer survival rates still sits below 50% (and as low as 7.7% for Pancreatic Cancer). As the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) 2017 Report “Cancer in Australia” showed:

  • Three of the eight cancers with the highest mortality rates (>70%) are cancers of the GI tract viz:

Pancreas                     Liver                     Oesophagus

  • Whilst Six of the twelve cancers with the lowest 5 year survival rates (<30%) are also cancers of the GI tract viz:

Pancreas                    Liver                     Oesophagus

Stomach                    Gallbladder and Extra‐Hepatic Bile Ducts                  Other Digestive organs

This recent Senate report included 25 Recommendations, which were unanimously endorsed by the Select Committee. The full Senate Report can be read HERE.

Whilst all 25 recommendations have significant merit and provide a positive platform for improved outcomes for those diagnosed with a low-survival cancer, of particular note were the following recommendations:

Recommendation 13

The committee recommends that the Australian government ensures ongoing funding for genomic research in to low survival rate cancers.

Recommendation 14

The committee recommends that the Australian government implements any recommendation from the Medical Services Advisory Committee to list genetic tests for low survival rate cancer patients on the Medicare Benefits Schedule so that these tests are routinely available to these patients and reimbursed.

Recommendation 24

The committee recommends that the federal, state and territory governments develop and implement a comprehensive Australia-wide strategy to increase 5-year survival rates for low survival rate cancers to above 50 per cent by 2027:

  • taking into account the recommendations in this report;
  • consulting with researchers, clinicians, patients and patient groups;
  • considering the roles of research, early diagnosis and access to medicines; and
  • assessing the applicability of international approaches, such as the Recalcitrant Cancer Research Act of 2012 (US), to the Australian context.

Recommendation 25

The committee recommends that annual progress reports on the development and implementation of an Australian strategy to improve survival rates for low survival rate cancers are provided to the Council of Australian Governments Health Council and made publicly available.