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16 Sep 2020
Sector News

VCCC welcomes ambitious Victorian Cancer Plan

  • Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre
  • Department of Health and Human Services

The Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre (VCCC) alliance has welcomed the Victorian Cancer Plan 2020-2024 – a state-wide plan to reduce the harm caused by cancer.

“Every Victorian is affected by cancer in some way,” Executive Director of the VCCC, Professor Grant McArthur, said.

“This plan sets out a state-wide commitment to increase screening, improve access to treatment and more personalised care, and to invest in research and programs for all Victorians, no matter where they live.”

The release of the plan comes as the VCCC raises concerns about Victorians delaying cancer screening and treatment during the COVID-19 pandemic. New data has revealed a 30 per cent reduction in reporting for the five most common cancers (colorectal, prostate, breast, melanoma, and lung) during the pandemic.

“We have been watching these concerning numbers, and preparing for the inevitable surge in additional cancer cases in the coming months – including patients who may have had a better prognosis if they had been diagnosed earlier,” Professor McArthur said. “I want to encourage all Victorians to continue to seek medical advice and do their regular screenings.”

It is expected that one in two Victorians will get cancer in their lifetime, and one in five will die from the disease. 

“Before the pandemic, around 30 Victorians were dying from cancer every day, and 96 Victorians were receiving a new diagnoses of cancer every day – one person every 15 minutes.” 

“Despite improvements in screening, diagnosis, treatment and management, cancer still kills more Victorians than any other single cause of death in our community – and, we know there are still significant disparities in cancer outcomes in Victoria,” Professor McArthur said. 

This includes:

  • Victorians living in regional or rural areas experience a 5-year survival rate of 66 per cent, compared to 70 per cent for patients in metropolitan areas;
  • Aboriginal Victorians are more likely to be diagnosed with advanced cancer; and
  • Nationally, 5-year survival is worse for lower socio-economic areas across all cancers.

“The VCCC’s work is focused on improving outcomes for cancer patients no matter whether they live in metropolitan, or regional or rural Victoria; to forge new approaches to cancer treatment; and to help build capacity and capability to get the best and latest in cancer care and treatment to all Victorians,” Professor McArthur said.

“We’re pleased to see this shared focus in the Victorian Cancer Plan for the next four years. It’s an ambitious plan, but one that the VCCC alliance and the cancer and health services sector are well-positioned to deliver.”

The Victorian Cancer Plan 2020-2024 focuses on more localised cancer treatment and care services for regional Victorians closer to where they live; more home-based care, telehealth, community-based care, and self-management models of care to reduce barriers to accessing cancer services; and more flexible use of the health workforce. It also has a specific goal to eliminate cervical cancer in Victoria.

“Cancer doesn’t care where you live. So, it’s up to us to ensure every Victorian patient has equity of access cancer screening, treatment and care,” Professor McArthur said.

The VCCC is an alliance of 10 leading research, academic and clinical institutions, working together to accelerate and amplify leading-edge cancer research, knowledge and expertise to benefit the Victorian community.

Earlier this year, the VCCC alliance announced new Affiliate Partnerships with two regional health services – Bendigo Health and Albury Wodonga Health. These partnerships will help increase equity of access to cancer services for those living in regional Victoria, and the VCCC hopes to announce more regional partnerships in the near future.

“Patients with cancer living in regional and rural Victoria can be disadvantaged in terms of access to care and clinical trials. We have introduced some key innovations such as cancer teletrials which have already demonstrated great potential, especially during the pandemic. Now, we need to keep up that momentum to really impact the disparity,” Professor McArthur said.

In recent years, the VCCC alliance has made direct and tangible contributions to the prevention, detection, treatment and recovery from cancer across Victoria. The alliance has expanded clinical trials, built workforce capacity, facilitated Australia’s largest and highest impact cancer research program, and helped enable the translation of research discoveries into clinical care for patients, faster.

 “We have made significant progress in how we detect, diagnose, treat, and manage cancer in Victoria – and we have more to do,” Professor McArthur said.

The VCCC alliance members are Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, The Royal Melbourne Hospital, The University of Melbourne, the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, the Royal Women’s Hospital, The Royal Children’s Hospital, Western Health, St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne (including St Vincent's Institute), Austin Health (including the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute and Austin Lifesciences) and Murdoch Children’s Research Institute.

Media enquiries

Evelyn Ek | CPR Communications | e.ek@cprcomm.com.au | 0412 887 853