South Australian Scientist of the Year Professor Graeme Young is calling for more investment on the implementation of existing research findings and knowledge in the wake of the Australian Government’s announcement of a $20bn research fund.
Professor Young, who is one of the world’s leading experts on bowel cancer, emphasises the Union Internationale Contre le Cancer (UICC) view that one-third of cancer deaths can be avoided through prevention, and another third through early detection and treatment.
“This means that millions of lives could be saved globally if more funding were to be made available for cancer screening, promoting lifestyle change and reducing exposure to the agents that cause cancer,” he said. “In many cases we know what to do, but not how to do it effectively.”
He said UICC figures showed that up to four million lives and billions of dollars could be saved globally by preventative measures.
Professor Young said that with figures forecasting an increase of 75% in cancer cases over the next two decades, it was time for any government that wanted to control spiralling cancer care costs to focus more on prevention.
He will make his case during the inaugural Graeme Young Oration at the Science Exchange Auditorium in Adelaide this evening. The oration, titled ‘Can Cancer be Prevented’ will argue that the most effective weapons in the fight against cancer are early diagnosis and prevention.
Professor Young, who is Chairman of the Governing Council at the Flinders Centre for Innovation in Cancer, made international headlines in March this year when he presented initial evidence that a new blood test for bowel cancer based on genes can detect 65 per cent of cases.
He also played a key role in the National Bowel Screening Program, in which people aged over 50 send a tiny stool sample through the post to screen for bowel cancer.
His research has shown that the program detects cancer early and so will lead to thousands of lives being saved through early detection.