The Cancer Control Group, in collaboration with other groups in the Population Health Department, is conducting a project commissioned by Cancer Council Australia to estimate the preventable fraction of cancer in Australia. The first phase of this work resulted in a suite of 14 consecutive papers published in a single issue of Aust NZ J Public Health (open access available here) plus a separate paper on cancer mortality (here). Cumulatively, this work has already attracted 191 cumulative cites since publication and generated immense media interest, registering a national audience of more than 5.8 million people generated by 22 TV news bulletins, national radio coverage. The work has also led to an invited review in Cancer Epidemiology and invited presentations to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (Lyon, France) and the 23rd UICC World Cancer Congress, Melbourne.
The findings also underpinned the Cancer Council NSW ‘1 in 3 cancers’ campaign and inform control policies for Cancer Australia and Cancer Council Australia. Future plans: we are currently estimating the impact on future cancer incidence of changes in prevalence of known causal factors for cancer (Phase 2). For example, ‘how many cancers would be avoided if mean population BMI were reduced by 1kg/m2?’. Our newly funded work (Phase 3) is investigating how much of difference in cancer burden by social class is explained by differences in the distribution of known causal factors (e.g. smoking, alcohol, obesity, physical activity). These data are crucial for policy makers and health planners when choosing between alternative cancer control strategies.