New research centre at TPCH targets early detection of lung cancer

TPCH new research centre opening

Professor Kwun Fong, patient Geoff Tapping and ACRF Board Chairman Tom Dery AO celebrate the official opening of the ACRF Centre for Early Lung Cancer Detection at TPCH.

The Prince Charles Hospital will be the centre of a major new research effort focussing on earlier detection of lung cancer, Australia’s deadliest cancer.

Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Cameron Dick on Thursday launched the Australian Cancer Research Foundation (ACRF) Centre for Lung Cancer Early Detection which will be partnered by The University of Queensland Thoracic Research Centre  at TPCH.

Mr Dick said lung cancer remained the leading cause of death from any cancer worldwide, for both men and women.

“The low survival rate is due primarily to lung cancer being typically diagnosed at an advanced stage,” Mr Dick said.

Lung cancer survivor, Geoff Tapping knows the importance of early lung cancer screening. The former military officer initially applied for the early screening program at TPCH for altruistic reasons, rather than health concerns.

“I had absolutely no symptoms, and was quite fit, having been part of the army,” Mr Tapping said.  “The doctors found a very small, early stage lung cancer in my lungs, which if left untreated, would have been fatal. “Early screening meant that the cancer was picked up on early and removed. That’s why I’m here today.”

Mr Dick said driving research and innovation is a key directive of the Palaszczuk Government’s Advancing Health 2026 strategy, which aims to make Queenslanders among the healthiest people in the world.

“This new centre will focus all its research efforts on innovative methods for detecting lung cancer early, and aiming to improve health outcomes and treatment options for people at risk of or diagnosed with lung cancer,” he said.

“Through initiatives such as the ACRF Centre for Lung Cancer Early Detection, Queensland is leading the way in research and innovation, attracting the best and brightest researchers in the world.”

ACRF has provided $1 million to equip the centre with the latest technology to advance lung cancer diagnostics.

Director of the UQ Thoracic Research Centre and Clinical Manager of the Pulmonary Malignancy Unit at TPCH, Professor Kwun Fong said the centre’s focus would be on identifying better ways to screen for lung cancer and improving methods for diagnosing suspected cases.

“We will use the latest technology to identify markers for lung cancer that might be present in the breath, blood or lung fluids at a very early stage of the disease,” Professor Fong said.

He said the centre would bring together the skills from several highly skilled researchers and scientists, including collaborators at CSIRO, who would assist by analysing breath samples.

ACRF Chief Executive Dr Ian Brown said lung cancer remains the leading cause of death from cancer in Australia, for both men and women, with less than 15 per cent of patients surviving for five years.

“The low survival rate is mainly due to the diagnosis usually occurring at an advanced stage of the cancer, when there are few effective treatment options available.” Dr Brown said.

“Lung cancer can be more effectively treated if diagnosed in its earliest stage, and that is why ACRF felt it was vitally important to support this research.”

Health authorities estimate that more than 9000 Australians will die from lung cancer in 2017, and more than 12,400 new cases will be diagnosed this year.

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