Battle against Ovarian cancer
There was on article on research into endometrial cancer being carried out by Professor Obermair and his team in Sat 10th Feb Courier Mail. The research is to see whether it is possible to treat some forms of endometrial cancer without invasive surgery. Below is a feel-good story about how a small amount of money can lead to big strides in treating female cancer.
What can we achieve with $118,000 in medical research?
Posted by on 7 February 2013 | 0 Comments
Last Sunday, we held the 2013 Battle Against Ovarian Cancer. The event was a phenomenal success. With over 70 teams participating and more than 1000 people through the gates, it exceeded all expectations. The Cherish Foundation raised over $118,000 in online donations. These online donations are still open and receiving funds, so this figure will likely finish even higher.
So, what can be achieved in gynaecological cancer research with $118,000? Let me tell you a true story from QCGC Research. It is the story of Australia’s largest clinical trial.
In 2002, the late Dr McCartney (the inventor of the Vaginal Tube that revolutionised laparoscopic hysterectomy) and I realised that surgery for uterine cancer was too invasive, caused too many surgical complications and should be more humane. A plan to establish minimally invasive (keyhole) surgery for uterine cancer was developed and that plan was submitted to funding. No single granting body was willing to fund this trial. They called the trial “too ambitious” and said that“ such a big trial had never been done in Australia.”.
Our centre contacted two companies who were willing to fund the start-up of this trial. These companies, Covidien and Johnson & Johnson, gave a total of $60,000 yearly for 3 years and with this we employed our first part-time research nurse, started the trial and collected data. That data was then used to successfully apply for a series of larger grants.
In the end, the initial amount of $60,000 donated by the two corporate led to the complete funding of a $3.5 million clinical trial, called the LACE trial (Laparoscopic Approach to Carcinoma of the Endometrium). The outcomes of LACE led to world-wide recognition that:
- Recovery from minimally invasive surgery is much faster and better than surgery through an open abdominal incision
- Hospital stay is far shorter after minimally invasive surgery;
- Surgical complications are 30% less common with minimally invasive surgery and blood loss during surgery is also less;
- Minimally invasive surgery is more cost-effective. If all open abdominal hysterectomies were replaced by minimally invasive surgery, the funders of healthcare (i.e. Queensland Health, health insurers) would save $20 million every year in Queensland alone.
As a result, minimally invasive surgery became industry best-practice for the treatment of uterine cancer in Australia, and indeed world-wide and is now standard operating procedure.
All of this research was accomplished with a start-up of $60,000.
Today, despite a sharp increase in rates of gynaecological cancer, we are battling with decreasing research funds from governments. The federal government’s National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) increases its research spending by 15% every year, however:
- It decreased funding for ovarian cancer research by 60% in the last 2 years.
- In the last funding round, not a single study was funded for uterine cancer research.
It seems that gynaecological cancer research has been forgotten and we need to take funding for gynaecological cancer research into our own hands. The Battle Against Ovarian Cancer last Sunday gave gynaecological cancer research a strong voice and it also was a great example of what we can achieve if we battle along together.
I’ve given an example of the great things that can be achieved with a relatively small amount of funding. Now let me outline what we want to achieve with the funds raised from the Battle.
Today, the best treatment available for gynaecological cancer still isn’t good enough. Survival following an ovarian cancer diagnosis is still poor. Collateral damage from treatments can be horrendous. We have come a long way, but there is still a way to go. QCGC Research has kinder, gentler treatments awaiting clinical trial right now.
Over the coming months, we, the Cherish Foundation, will invest the funds raised in these clinical trials and we will keep talking about particular research project/s that are made possible thanks to the funds that were generously donated or raised.
Finally, I thank all all our supporters once again for their contribution in making the Battle Against Ovarian cancer a huge success.