Cancer Connections

Beating Cancer in the Highlands ... This column is brought to you regularly by the Southern Highlands Cancer Leadership Committee and is first published in the Lifestyle section of the Southern Highland News. It is designed to inform everybody of matters relating to cancer in our local community and the wider society. We aim to focus on local news, forthcoming events, services and other cancer issues.

Cancer Connections - December 2018

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Cancer Research is ESSENTIAL
Ever wondered why cancer charities need to raise so much money ? Apart from the funds which go towards promoting cancer education, information and prevention; supporting patients undergoing treatment; and advocating for advances, a large proportion of the money raised goes to fund necessary research. This month I thought I would illustrate what goes on by mentioning in detail just two research projects which have been undertaken.

Killing the cells causing liver cancer
Australia has witnessed a significant rise in liver cancer rates in recent years, and this trend is expected to continue over the next few decades. Sadly, the chance of a person with liver cancer surviving for 5 years or more is just 16%, and this is largely because the cancer is able to resist current therapies. Professor Christopher Liddle from the University of Sydney has found that there is a group of cells in liver tumours called cancer stem cells. These cells initiate cancer growth and contribute to the spread of the tumour. Current therapies are not able to target these cells, explaining why liver cancers are so unresponsive to treatment. Prof. Liddle and his team have developed two agents that can seek out and bind to the liver cancer stem cells and kill them. The researchers are now testing the effectiveness of these agents in the lab to see just how powerful their anti-cancer capability is. Once the team proves the agents are successful, this will lay the foundation for clinical trials.

Bowel cancer treatment
Bowel cancer is the second most common cancer in Australia, with about 15,000 new cases diagnosed every year. Women have a 1 in 30 chance of getting bowel cancer before the age of 75, while men have a 1 in 21 chance. Survival rates have only slightly increased in recent years. When bowel cancer is detected early, it is potentially curable, however less than 40% of bowel cancers are picked up in these early stages. Despite the progress being made in developing targeted therapies for other forms of cancer, effective treatments for advanced bowel cancer are still needed. That’s why it is essential that research is directed into the prevention and treatment of bowel cancer. Cancer Council NSW committed $360,000 in funding the Valerie Enid Legge Project Grant led by Professor Xu Dong Zhang at the University of Newcastle. Prof. Zhang has made an important discovery : that a certain protein is linked to the development of advanced bowel cancer. His team has found that blocking this protein has the potential to slow down the growth of the cancer cells. While research is still ongoing, this finding represents a big step towards creating personalised bowel cancer therapies that are effective in targeting the disease at the molecular level.

Season’s Good Wishes
On a different note than above, let’s recognise all the great work that goes on in our local community with marvellous health professionals delivering specialist care and with so many volunteers raising funds and providing valuable support to patients. Our committee salutes you all and offers seasonal best wishes to every one of you.

Coming Events

• December is Decembeard : raising awareness of bowel cancer. See the website www.decembeard.org.au

• There is no meeting of the Southern Highlands Cancer Support Group planned for December
• Please note : the Southern Highlands branch of Can Assist will not be holding a meeting in January. The work of branch executive members will be carried on as usual. The next meeting will be held on February 12th.

Grahame Hackett (Chair, Southern Highlands Cancer Leadership Committee)
0407 234 780 or info@sh-cancerconnect.com.au


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Cancer Connections - June 2018

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Cancer Services Directory 2018

This year’s edition of the Southern Highlands Cancer Services Directory was published as a free insert in Southern Highland News on Friday June 15th. This issue, which was our 10th, has focussed on the important theme of blood cancers. It contains a number of feature articles written for us around that topic by Dr Silvia Ling, Dr Vince Roche, Rare Cancers Australia, and the Leukaemia Foundation. The material provides much needed information about this lesser-known aspect of the cancer field. If you did miss out on the flip-style A5 booklet, with the Health Guide at the other end, copies will still be available if you enquire at the Southern Highland News office or at the Cancer Centre within the Private Hospital. Our Directory can now also be read online, courtesy of Fairfax special publications, as an interactive digital magazine. Just go to our Directory tab above and click on the link provided on that page.


Can Assist’s new venue
Starting with the June meeting, the monthly coming together of local Can Assist volunteers will now be held at the Mittagong RSL Club, in place of BDCU, which is no longer able to assure that a room would be available. The support of the BDCU in providing a meeting place, completely free of charge, was much appreciated by the local charity whose funds are spent entirely in assisting cancer patients in the Wingecarribee. For the time being, the monthly meetings of members will be held at the RSL Club, still at 10am, with a view to making a firm arrangement for the forthcoming year.



Bowel Cancer Awareness Month

With the provocative slogan of “Get behind it !”, the Bowel Cancer Awareness campaign continues throughout June. This form of cancer, less acknowledged and less discussed than it really should be, remains a major cause of death among Australians. Something like 80 lives are lost every week to cancers of the bowel. Hence the eye-catching approach being taken to raise awareness of the issue and motivate more people to act on protecting their own health. Red Apple Day is on June 20th to help spread the message. More information is available – just go to http://www.bowelcancerawarenessmonth.org


“Stars of the Highlands Dance for Cancer”
A great night and a great result on the fundraising front for the dance extravaganza. This year’s event, following on the success of the initial one last year, was even bigger and better and resulted in raising around $53,000. These funds will go towards Cancer Council’s projects in the region, including continuing support for their services in transporting local cancer patients to and from their medical appointments and treatment. The winners of the dance event were Patrick Glanville and Monique Barrios, who also took out best costume, and the trophy for most funds raised went to Joh Bailey, with more than $13,000 donated. A fantastic achievement by all concerned and a new way to have fun in aid of a good cause.

Coming Events
• June is Bowel Cancer Awareness Month with Red Apple Day on the 20th
• Southern Highlands Cancer Support Group, 10am, Tues. June 26 RSVP Katie
• Breast Cancer Support Group, Mittagong RSL, 10am-12 noon, June 27
• “Passion on the Field” an RCA event at Royal Randwick, July 7 – all details can be found on the Rare Cancers website at https://www.rarecancers.org.au/events
• Can Assist Meeting at Mittagong RSL Club, not BDCU, 10am July 10.
Please note the change of venue.
*  Cancer Support Group : Please note that the meeting planned for 24th July has been cancelled.

Grahame Hackett (Chair, Southern Highlands Cancer Leadership Committee)
0407 234 780 or info@sh-cancerconnect.com.au


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