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25 Jul 2018

Trials for young adults with cancer to receive huge funding boost

The Australian Young Cancer Patient Clinical Trials initiative has been granted $3.2 million by the Federal Government for four ground-breaking clinical trials, including the Garvan-led Australian Genomic Cancer Medicine Program.

The Federal Minster for Health the Hon. Greg Hunt MP, and youth cancer charity CanTeen, awarded a $950,000 grant to the Australian Genomic Cancer Medicine Project, led by the Garvan Institute. This announcement will significantly impact participation rates in a cutting-edge clinical trial for adolescents and young adults living with rare and less common cancers.

Cancer is the leading cause of non-accidental death of young adults in Australia, yet clinical trials are often geared towards adult and paediatric cancers, limiting the treatment options available for young adults. This funding will enable people aged 15 - 25 living with rare or less common cancers access to cutting-edge genomic cancer medicine clinical trials in which the entire DNA of a patient is profiled and compared with the DNA of their tumour to discern the underlying cause of their cancer and target treatment accordingly.

“Cancers are traditionally thought of as a disease of the elderly,” says Professor David Thomas head of the Australian Genomic Cancer Medicine Program, Director of The Kinghorn Cancer Centre and Cancer Division Head at the Garvan Institute. “However, rare cancers disproportionately affect adolescents and young adults. Thanks to Canteen and the Federal government, this funding will ensure that all young adults with incurable rare cancers have access to this important clinical trial”.

“Young people also have significantly poorer survival rates than children or older adults for cancer types that are common in their age group – around half of the cancer types that affect young people still have 5-year survival rates below 77%,” says Peter Orchard, CEO of CanTeen.

“It’s a huge step forward for young Australian cancer patients, particularly those diagnosed with rare or deadly types of blood, bone and brain cancers.”

The grant is part of a larger award of $3.2 million in funding for four ground-breaking clinical trials in Sydney and Melbourne as part of the Australian Young Cancer Patient Clinical Trials initiative, which has been made possible through the Medical Research Future Fund. Collectively, these trials will recruit around 265 young cancer patients primarily through the hospital-based Youth Cancer Services.