New research direction and funding will deliver better cancer prevention and support

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New research direction and funding will deliver better cancer prevention and support

The Cancer Society today announced funding of nearly $2 million to kick start a new direction for cancer research in New Zealand focused on cancer prevention and support.

Funding cancer research is one of the ways the Cancer Society makes good use of the donations provided by Kiwis every year. This year’s Daffodil Day will be held on August 30.

“Cancer is the number one cause of death in New Zealand and the number of people affected is predicted to increase by 50% in the next 15 years,” says Dr Chris Jackson, Cancer Society Medical Director.

“We need to see fewer cancers by better cancer prevention, and improve care and support to help with the distress it causes many New Zealanders and their whānau. New Zealand-based knowledge plays an important role in this.”

Specific research themes to address these issues include: progressing a Smokefree Aotearoa, skin cancer prevention, improving nutrition, reducing obesity and alcohol-related harm, promoting physical activity, preventing infection-related cancers and improving cancer care and support.

This research will be undertaken by a new five year collaboration with the newly formed Cancer Society Research Collaboration (CSRC) hosted by Otago University.

“We expect to see important new knowledge come from this new collaboration in the prevention, supportive care and psychosocial areas of cancer,” says Cancer Society Chief Executive Mike Kernaghan.

“This is an exciting partnership for the Cancer Society. The new cancer research group includes many of New Zealander’s leading researchers and we look forward to working closely with them.”

CSRC lead researcher, Associate Professor Crengle, says New Zealand has well documented inequities in cancer, the most significant between Māori and non-Māori. The collaboration has a particular focus on finding ways to eliminate these unfair differences.

“The Cancer Society continues to fund world-class bench-top and clinical research through its project grants, as well as scholarships for established and emerging researchers. However, this major five year grant underlines our commitment to investing in the prevention of cancer and support of those with cancer,” Mike Kernaghan says.

“We want to know how best to support people through change, what we need to do to help their recovery on a psychosocial level, how we might support people surviving with cancer, and the most effective ways to create behaviour changes that promote health and reduce cancer risk.”

“The collaborative includes experts in public health, Māori health, social science, Pacific health and clinical medicine. It draws together leading cancer researchers in a comprehensive programme of research on cancer prevention, care and support,” says Dr Rachael Mclean of Otago University.

The new Cancer Society Research Collaboration (CSRC) combines leading cancer researchers working in the areas of: cancer and chronic conditions, health promotion and policy, smokefree research, and the previous Social and Behavioural Research Unit. It will be led by senior Otago University staff: Professors Janet Hoek, Diana Sarfati and Louise Signal, Associate Professor Sue Crengle and Drs Richard Egan and Rachael McLean.

Background information

  • Nationally, the Cancer Society have spent $62,285,907 on research over the last 10 years with $4,835,521 spent in the last year – which is 13% of its total expenditure.
  • The Cancer Society has its historical roots in advancing cancer research beginning with the collection of data on patient demographics and cancer types and sites by the Otago/Southland Cancer Society in the 1930s
  • The Cancer Society previously funded the Cancer Society Social and Behavioural Research Unit at the University of Otago. The Cancer Society had a successful 25 years association with the unit.