Childhood cancer funding

4 September 2017 | cancer, childhood cancer

September is International Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

As many of you would know, I have been an active participant in the Senate inquiry on funding for cancers with low survival rates. Tragically, low survival rates are the hallmark of many childhood cancers. To mark the month, I moved the following motion, which the Senate today passed:

I move that the Senate:

1. Notes:

  • September is International Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.
  • Childhood cancers are mostly rare cancers with poor survival rates.
  • As a group, rare and “less common” cancers account for almost a quarter of all diagnoses and almost 40% of cancer deaths, and yet attract 13.5 per cent of research funding.
  • According to statistics supplied by Australian and New Zealand Children’s Haematology/Oncology Group, about 710 children aged 0-14 are diagnosed with cancer each year and about half of them are four years old or younger.
  • Of children diagnosed with cancer, 100 die each year before the age of 15.
  • Brain cancer accounts for about 40% of childhood cancer deaths, followed by leukaemia at 23%.
  • According to Canteen, adolescents and young adults have experienced lower gains in five-year survival and death rates compared to young children and adults, partly because of poorer access to clinical trials.
  • During last year’s election the Government pledged $20 million towards the Zero Childhood Cancer initiative, however, in the recent Federal Budget, the Government pledged only $5.8 million over four years for research and clinical trials into childhood cancer.

2. Calls on the Government to:

  • Substantially increase its funding towards childhood cancer research, and also towards building an internationally-linked national network of cancer trials for all low survival cancers.
  • Allow cancer drugs on the PBS to be repurposed so that patients can access the appropriate cancer drug for their particular treatment needs rather than restrict subsidised access only to the PBS-prescribed drug for their cancer type. 

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