$3.7m boost for WA cancer research in 55th year of Cancer Council WA awards

Updated 26 Oct 2021.

As the largest non-government funder of cancer research in the state, we're proud to announce today that we're contributing $3.7 million for 68 WA cancer researchers and 33 projects in 2018.

This is the 55th year of our donor-funded annual research grants program that focuses on fostering a strong cancer research community in WA.

"It's vital that WA has a robust cancer research sector to ensure the best possible outcomes for local cancer patients and to make our contribution to the global effort to defeat cancer," Cancer Council WA CEO Ashley Reid said.

"A strong cancer research community means more opportunities for West Australians to participate in potentially life-saving clinical trials and have access to treatment options they may not otherwise have.

"Every day, cancer researchers we fund across a number of WA organisations and institutes are working towards the next breakthrough, striving to find more answers to save and improve lives."

Areas of cancer research Cancer Council WA is funding this year Read more about our the research funding program

New trial aims to make exercise "prehabilitation" a mainstay for prostate cancer patients

Among the recipients is Dr Favil Singh from Edith Cowan University Exercise Medicine Research Institute, who will use his grant to investigate if pre-surgery exercise is effective in limiting life-altering side effects for prostate cancer patients.

In Australia, prostatectomy - an operation to remove all or part of the prostate gland - is the most common initial treatment for prostate cancer patients under the age of 70, however the treatment is associated with adverse effects including incontinence and reduced functional capacity.

"Declining physical function after surgery is a major cause of morbidity and mortality for prostate cancer patients," Dr Singh explained.

"We know targeted exercise programs can reduce cancer treatment-related adverse effects but to date these interventions have occurred post-surgery - we now believe pre-surgery is the best time for maximum benefit.

"Improving recovery times can significantly reduce the patient's dependence on pharmaceutical interventions, hospitalisation time, re-admission rates, and overall healthcare costs.

"This research has both the potential for immediate impact on the individual as well as value to the community as a whole."

Dr Singh is looking for 40 WA prostate cancer patients, pre-surgery, to take part in the study.

The trial will compare a supervised clinic-based exercise program to a home-based program to see which is more efficient in improving the patients' physical function.

Dr Singh said it was a great honour to receive a grant early in his career.

"Thanks to Cancer Council WA investment, many local cancer researchers are on the cusp of breakthroughs that have the potential to dramatically improve the way
we treat, detect and prevent cancer," Dr Singh said.

"Without this grant, we wouldn't be able to do this study and provide WA cancer patients the opportunity to achieve a better quality of life."

Other areas of cancer research we're funding this year: 

• a blood test that can predict a person's risk of primary liver cancer before it occurs

• a world-first tool that could help surgeons remove entire breast tumours in one go and avoid the need for follow-up surgeries

• a project aiming to overcome low Indigenous breast cancer survival rates; and

• work to improve treatment options for patients with pancreatic cancer, which currently has a 5-year survival rate of less than 7 per cent

Read more about our the research projects we're funding this year.

The importance of quality local cancer research

"Our robust peer-review structure ensures we direct funding to the most promising research conducted across a range of local institutes and universities, wherever the best research occurs," Mr Reid said.

"Thanks to advances in cancer research and early detection, cancer survival rates have increased dramatically in the past 60 years, from 30 per cent in 1958, to over 60 per cent today.

"For some of the most common cancers, such as breast, melanoma and prostate, the five-year survival rate is now over 90 per cent.

"Thousands of West Australians are alive today because of research - but there's still a long way to go to make sure patients with less common cancers have better outcomes.

"We gratefully acknowledge the generosity of the WA community, which has enabled us to make this substantial investment into world-class local research."

Background information:

  • Since our research funding program began in 1963, we've contributed over $47 million to 966 local research projects.
  • Each year 13,000 West Australians are diagnosed with cancer, and sadly around 4000 die as a result of cancer.

Read more:


Cancer Council WA's 2018 research funding program figures


Found in:  News - 2018 | View all news