Curing cancer: are we nearly there yet?

25 September 2012

How far away are we from 'the cure' for cancer? On 26 September Professor Roger Reddel from Sydney Medical School, one of Australia's leading cancer researchers, provides the big picture on cancer including the latest advances in our understanding and treatment.

Professor Reddel's talk is the latest in the series 21st Century Medicine - today's research, tomorrow's healthcare and the opening event for the Sydney Cancer Conference 2012, being held at the University of Sydney.

This year an estimated 121,500 Australians will be told they have cancer, still the leading cause of death in this country.

One in two Australian men and one in three Australian women will be diagnosed with cancer by the age of 85.

"The news media bombard us with so many cancer research 'breakthroughs' that it would be easy to form the impression that a cure for cancer will be found any day now. On the other hand, there are critics who consider that the billions of dollars spent on the so-called war on cancer have been used ineffectively and that we are in fact losing the war. The reality lies somewhere between these two views," said Professor Reddel, Director of the Children's Medical Research Institute (CMRI) and head of its Cancer Research Unit.

The Sydney Cancer Conference 2012 brings together researchers from different areas including engineering, veterinary science, pharmacy and nursing to present their latest findings and catalyse future research collaborations.

Professor Phyllis Butow, from the University's School of Psychology, will present her research on how language difficulties and cultural factors may contribute to poorer outcomes for first generation immigrants with cancer.

"We found Chinese, Arabic and Greek immigrants with cancer have worse psychological and quality of life outcomes than Anglo-Australians," Professor Butow said.

"Furthermore immigrants who reported less understanding of the health system and greater language difficulties had significantly worse outcomes than immigrants with a greater familiarity of Australia's culture.

"We suggest that ways to reduce that disparity could include assistance in navigating the health system, translated information and cultural competency training for health professionals," Professor Butow said.

For her pioneering work on how effective communication between patients with cancer and their doctors can reduce anxiety and depression Professor Butow was this year named Outstanding Cancer Researcher in the NSW 2012 Premier's Awards.

NSW Minister for Health and Minister for Medical Research, Jillian Skinner, will open conference by outlining the state of cancer research in Australia. She will acknowledge leading cancer researchers in attendance at the conference including keynote speakers: Professor Richard Schilsky from University of Chicago Medical Centre; Dr Nick Barker, Institute of Medical Biology Singapore; and Professor Paul Glasziou, Bond University, Australia.

The conference is hosted by the Cancer Research Network, a cross-disciplinary initiative of the University with an emphasis on communicating research findings to practitioners and the general public.

Talk details

What: Curing Cancer: Are we nearly there yet? 

When: 6 to 7.30pm, Wednesday 26 September

Where: Lecture Theatre 101, New Law Building, Camperdown Campus. See map and directions

Cost: Free

Book now online 

Conference details

What: Sydney Cancer Conference 

When: Thursday 27 and Friday 28 September

Where: New Law Building, Camperdown Campus. See map and directions

Cost: $495 for two days, including GST

Bookings: Nadine Caisley 

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Media enquiries: Verity Leatherdale, 02 9351 4312, 0403 067 342, (media passes are available for the conference)