Changing the face of liver cancer in NSW

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Liver cancer is the second fastest growing cancer type in Australia and the fastest growing cause of cancer deaths, but a new cancer research program will strive to change this.

Supported by a new, landmark $4 million grant from the Cancer Institute NSW, the Accelerated translational research in PRImary Liver Cancer (APRICA) program will bring together researchers, clinicians and experts across the state to improve liver cancer outcomes.

Program-lead Professor Jacob George, a renowned liver specialist and liver research scientist based at Westmead Hospital and The Westmead Institute for Medical Research, says he hopes the funding will change the face of liver cancer in NSW and beyond.

“Prevention is key,” Professor George says.

“Around two thirds of liver cancer cases in Australia are attributable to viral hepatitis. We know that by curing hepatitis C and treating hepatitis B, we can dramatically reduce the risk of liver cancer developing.

The grant will help treat people in communities with higher rates of viral hepatitis.

“Aboriginal and culturally linguistically diverse people have a higher chance of being diagnosed with liver cancer and are more likely to die from the disease – we want to change that,” Professor George explains.

With fewer than two in five people diagnosed surviving five years, a comprehensive approach to tackling the disease is vital. Improving liver cancer outcomes is a key focus of the NSW Cancer Plan.

Chief Cancer Officer and CEO of the Cancer Institute NSW, Professor David Currow, says NSW is at the forefront of this kind of innovation in cancer research.

“Investment in research with a focus on priority populations is an important driver in improving cancer outcomes.

“We want to make an impact where it matters most – on the lives of people affected by cancer today, and into the future,” Professor Currow says.

What will the new program do?

This comprehensive program will tackle liver cancer from before it starts, through to how people can be supported at end of life.

In-between there will be key focus on supporting people with the best treatment and care.

“It’s an exceptionally unique opportunity to try and change the face of liver cancer in NSW and hopefully in Australia,” Professor George says.

“This is a systems-based approach, a big picture approach to say ‘Let’s look at the whole gamut of what we need to do’.”

While there has been significant work to improve liver cancer outcomes in NSW, Professor George says this grant is the catalyst to bring many different areas together for one common goal.

They three key areas are:

  1. Optimising prevention strategies for primary liver cancer
  2. Establishing a NSW liver cancer board with multidisciplinary representations to implement best practice clinical care
  3. Developing a palliative care framework for primary liver cancer

“If we can advance the whole state on all of these aspects, it will be really improving cancer care for the individual patients,” Professor George says.

Supporting translational cancer research across NSW

A further $21 million has been awarded as part of a new funding model through the Translational Cancer Research Capacity Building Grants.

The grants will strengthen cancer research capacity and foster a collaborative culture of research to drive improvements in cancer care and outcomes.

Funding will go to three NSWTranslation Centres accredited by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC):

  • Professor Anna DeFazio – University of Sydney – Sydney Health Partners
  • Professor Geoff Delaney – University of New South Wales – Maridulu Budyari Gumal – Sydney Partnership for Health, Education, Research and Enterprise (SPHERE),
  • A/Prof Craig Gedye – University of Newcastle – NSW Regional Health Partners


The new model will bring together researchers, healthcare providers, education and training to strengthen cancer research capacity.

Ultimately, this will drive improvements in cancer care and outcomes for people living with cancer across NSW.

Source:  Cancer Institute NSW


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The ONA Editor curates oncology news, views and reviews from Australia and around the world for our readers. In aggregated content, original sources will be acknowledged in the article footer.

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