Saturday 4 February is World Cancer Day, convened each year by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) to raise awareness about the impact of cancer on communities worldwide and focus efforts on improved cancer outcomes.
This year’s theme is “Close the Care Gap”, with an emphasis on inequities across the cancer control spectrum and a push to mobilise all sectors to work towards more equitable cancer outcomes.
Inequity is not just a problem for low- and middle-income countries but also occurs in high income countries, some of which have the widest disparities in cancer incidence, mortality and quality of life between demographic groups.
Professor Alexandra Martiniuk, co-chair of the Daffodil Centre’s Equity and Cancer Care and Outcomes crosscutting hub, said inequity could also occur in the same socioeconomic groups and that outcomes and patient experiences could vary widely depending on variations in care pathways.
“Gathering new evidence through research on how inequities play out in communities and health systems and translating this new knowledge into improved policies and practices are the key to working towards fairer outcomes in cancer control and care,” Professor Martiniuk said.
“This is why the Daffodil Centre established a crosscutting theme on equity to ensure a strong focus on equity exists within each of the Daffodil’s topic-specific research hubs and streams.
“A focus on equity is necessary to ensure that all humans and systems receive the full benefits of cancer research and translation.”
Daffodil Centre Director, Professor Karen Canfell, said World Cancer Day was also an appropriate time to observe the importance of research in all areas of cancer control.
“Daffodil Centre research published in 2022 estimates that age-standardised cancer mortality in Australia will fall by around 20% over the next 20 to 25 years, with most of that mortality benefit driven by prevention and early detection,” Professor Canfell said.
“Some of the greatest gains are being delivered in areas of policy and practice informed by Daffodil Centre and Cancer Council research with key collaborators. This includes guidelines underpinning Australia’s National Bowel Cancer Screening Program, tobacco control policies that will deliver a 23% reduction in lung cancer rates, new guidelines for liver cancer control and research which has positioned Australia to be the first country in the world to eliminate cervical cancer.”
“Research will be key to further reducing cancer burden and inequities in cancer outcomes.”