Fighting childhood cancer implementation

Cancer Australia is undertaking a range of initiatives to increase Australia’s capacity to support quality research and give hope to children with cancer and their families.

Funding research in childhood cancers of low survival

Through the 2017-2019 rounds of the Priority-driven Collaborative Cancer Research Scheme (PdCCRS), Cancer Australia has supported collaborative funding of priority-driven research into children's cancers of low survival.  Through the PdCCRS, Cancer Australia and its Funding Partners, Australian Lions Childhood Cancer Research Foundation, Children's Hospital Foundation, Leukaemia Foundation, My Room and The Kids' Cancer Project, have funded 15 research projects in childhood cancers of low survival.

These include projects with a focus on the following childhood cancers of low survival:

  • Medulloblastoma
  • Neuroblastoma
  • Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma
  • Osteosarcoma
  • Soft Tissue Sarcomas
  • Acute Myeloid Leukaemia and
  • aggressive sub-types of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia.

Details of the grants awarded through the 2017-2019 round of the PdCCRS are provided at https://canceraustralia.gov.au/research-data/research/priority-driven-research

Fast tracking international research collaborations of paediatric brain cancer in Australia

AIM-BRAIN

Cancer Australia is providing $871,449 to support the Access to Innovative Molecular diagnostic Profiling for paediatric brain tumours (AIM-BRAIN) project, led by the Australian and New Zealand Haematology/Oncology Group (ANZCHOG). Cancer Australia is co-funding AIM-BRAIN with the Robert Connor Dawes Foundation and Carrie's Beanies 4 Brain Cancer, collectively providing a total of over $1.7 million.  

AIM BRAIN is bringing together Australian experts in paediatric brain tumours with internationally renowned molecular scientists, the most advanced diagnostic platforms currently available and neuro-oncologists throughout Australia and New Zealand; with the collective aim of accelerating Australia's capacity to undertake advanced molecular testing for paediatric brain tumours; and ultimately better target treatment to improve survival and decrease side effects.

AIM BRAIN is using highly sensitive DNA methylation profiling to complement gene panel analysis in diagnosis of childhood brain cancers, and provide the framework to achieve rapid, accurate diagnostic information for all children in Australia and New Zealand with brain tumours.

The national trial has expanded from two pilot sites in Victoria to currently being open at six sites across Australia and two sites in New Zealand, including, the Children's Hospital at Westmead (NSW), John Hunter Children's Hospital (NSW), Royal Children's Hospital (VIC), Monash Children's Hospital (VIC), Women's & Children's Hospital (SA), and Perth Children's Hospital (WA), Starship (Auckland, NZ) and Christchurch (NZ). Further sites across Australia are expected to open in the near future. 

Every child with a brain tumour in Australia and New Zealand can now access the most accurate molecular profiling available worldwide.

LGG Avastin study

Cancer Australia is also providing $0.51 million to ANZCHOG to undertake the Low Grade Glioma (LGG) Avastin study in Australia.

The LGG Avastin study is an international Phase II, open-labelled, multi-centre, randomised controlled trial which aims to examine the hypothesis that through its action on vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF - which controls the development of new blood vessels which allow tumour growth), the addition of Avastin will increase the activity of the chemotherapy agent Vinblastine - reducing potential side effects of current treatments and improving the outcomes for children with Low Grade Gliomas (LGGs).

The study is currently open at five sites across Australia and New Zealand: Royal Children's Hospital (Vic), Queensland Children's Hospital (Qld), Women and Children's Hospital (SA), Princess Margaret Hospital (WA), The Children's Hospital at Westmead (NSW) and Starship, Auckland (NZ).

Improving national childhood cancer data and supporting Cancer Australia's children's cancer website

Cancer Australia has released updated national data on childhood (paediatric) cancer stage at diagnosis and survival for the period of 2006-2014. These data cover 16 major cancer types, which represent approximately three-quarters of all childhood cancers diagnosed in Australia and other high-income countries.

These data have, for the first time, provided insights into the relationship between stage at diagnosis and relative survival, and will inform where targeted initiatives may play a role in improving outcomes.

The initial release of these data in 2018 represented the first time in the world that national level data on stage at diagnosis was reported for childhood cancers. This data release presents new information on childhood cancer stage at diagnosis and survival using more detailed staging systems intended for well-resourced cancer registries.

The release of these data marks a significant advance in the reporting of national cancer data. Australia is the first country to trial the Toronto Paediatric Cancer Stage Guidelines for determining stage at diagnosis for childhood cancers and the first to report national level data using these internationally endorsed Guidelines. 

Promoting awareness of children's cancer

Cancer Australia is working with The Kids' Cancer Project to raise awareness of childhood cancer and the need for continued research, leading to improved philanthropy for childhood cancer research.

Activities during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month (September) and throughout the year will leverage opportunities to maximise collaboration within the childhood cancer non-government organisations (NGOs) sector and support the development of new collaborations.