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04 Feb 2020
Press Release

World Cancer Day 2020: Victorians join global campaign against cancer

  • Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre
  • Union for International Cancer Control (UICC)

Today is World Cancer Day.

Today, 96 Victorians will receive a new diagnosis of cancer – one every 15 minutes.

Also today, 30 Victorians will die from cancer.

The Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre (VCCC) is urging all Victorians to support World Cancer Day, a global initiative which aims to save millions of preventable deaths each year by raising awareness and education about cancer, and encouraging governments and organisations around the world to take action against the disease.

Every Victorian is impacted by cancer

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

“Despite improvements in screening, diagnosis, treatment and management, cancer still kills more Victorians than any other single cause of death in our community.”

To mark the 20th anniversary of World Cancer Day, the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) has released a survey of more than 15,000 adults across 20 countries – the first multi-country public survey on cancer perceptions in a decade. The survey indicates a clear divide between higher and lower socioeconomic groups when it comes to knowledge and awareness of cancer risks and, as a result, the practice of behaviours to limit such risk.

“Sadly, the UICC trend can be seen locally. We know there are widening disparities in cancer outcomes here in Victoria, particularly for vulnerable communities,” Professor McArthur said.

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

  • Victorians living in regional or rural areas experience a 5-year survival rate of 66%, compared to 70% 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.

Significant progress, but still much to do

Among Australians surveyed by the UICC, 57 per cent said they are concerned about developing (or redeveloping) cancer in their lifetime, and almost 65 per cent have taken steps to reduce their risk of developing cancer, such as avoiding smoking, increasing exercise, and reducing exposure to harmful UV rays.

“We have made significant progress in the fight against cancer, but there is still so much to do. World Cancer Day is an opportunity to remember the important work being done – including at the VCCC – to better diagnose, treat, manage, and – we hope, one day, to cure – cancer,” Professor McArthur said.

The theme for World Cancer Day is ‘I Am and I Will’, which is designed to be an empowering personal call-to-action.

“All of us – as individuals, as members of organisations, and through our social networks – can help continue the fight against cancer, whether it’s to raise awareness, improve understanding of cancer risk factors, support cancer research, promote and participate in preventions, or share personal experiences with cancer,” Professor McArthur said.

Share your story on World Cancer Day

World Cancer Day participants can share their ‘I Am and I Will’ pledge on social media – for example, I am a cancer survivor and I will tell my cancer story and remind people to get regular skin cancer checks – using the hashtags #VCCC, #OvercomingCancerTogether, #WorldCancerDay, and #IAmAndIWill.

The Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre (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.

“The VCCC’s work is focused on improving outcomes for cancer patients no matter where they live in metropolitan, regional or rural Victoria; to forge new approaches to cancer treatment; and to ensure that the best and latest in cancer care and treatment is made available to all Victorians,” Professor McArthur said.

Direct and tangible contributions to cancer outcomes across Victoria

Since it was established, the VCCC has already made direct and tangible contributions to the prevention, detection, treatment and recovery from cancer across Victoria. The VCCC 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.

The VCCC alliance members are Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Melbourne Health (including 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.

For more information about World Cancer Day, visit the website

The UICC’s International Public Opinion Survey on Cancer 2020: What people feel, think and believe about cancer today, conducted by Ipsos.