Future generations who may be diagnosed with rare cancers have been offered hope this week with the promise of a $26m investment package into new research.
The money will be spent on 19 clinical trials, with the aim to reverse tragically low survival rates through the creation of new and more effective treatments.
The research funding follows calls from a cross-party Senate Committee, which last year requested more funding be allocated into research for rare cancers, which are responsible for more than 50 per cent of all cancer-related deaths across the country.
Health Minister, The Hon. Greg Hunt MP, told the ABC’s Background Briefing that the Federal Government is hoping to increase life expectancy for those diagnosed with a rare cancer.
“We have a once in a generation opportunity to give people a sense of hope and possibility, which previously may not have existed in many cases.
“This will provide real resources for many of those diseases that have a small population base but in many cases catastrophic outcomes that we can and must address on our watch,” Minister Hunt said.
Currently, rare cancer research receives just 12 per cent of the available funding for research, the majority of which comes from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC). Minister Hunt doesn’t have any influence over the Council but can impact on the work and funding of the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF).
“What I want to see in Australia is a dedicated funding base for rare cancers and rare diseases aimed at giving patients access to clinical trials and aimed at attracting medical researchers into this space.”
Many cancer specialists have been vocal about the lack of rare cancer funding to date, while more common cancers have been better funded than ever before and survival rates have risen as a result.
Founder and Chairman of Rare Cancers Australia, Richard Vines, is urging the Government to ensure funding continues and rare cancer research is prioritised.
“You’re looking at essentially an epidemic and the lack of funding for both research and treatment is outrageous.
“We’re encouraged that it’s on the radar, people understand the inequity, they know there’s a need for action, but what we now have to battle through is that natural inertia.”
Learn more about the funding into rare cancer treatment, here.