45 and Up Study to provide data for innovative cancer survivor research
Minister Greg Hunt, with NHRMC CEO Professor Anne Kelso and Emily Banks (R)  announces the research grants. Photo: Stuart Hay, ANU.

The 45 and Up Study is set to provide data for a new study into the experiences of 70,000 cancer survivors, that has been hailed by Cancer Council Australia as a landmark event in understanding cancer outcomes and guiding improvements in care and support.

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt this week announced the $1.16 million cancer research grant for the Australian National University study, to be led by Professor Emily Banks from the ANU National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health.

The grant is part of $640 million in new NHMRC grants to support health and medical research, including $109 million allocated for research projects into better cancer detection, treatments, care and cures.

A patient-centred approach using big data

Professor Banks, who is also Scientific Director of the 45 and Up Study, said the project would draw on data from Study to track the experiences of more than 70,000 cancer survivors, in comparison with 190,000 people without cancer, to analyse the physical, mental, social and economic impacts of cancer – and how these vary between socioeconomic groups and people with different cancer types.

The 45 and Up Study is Australia’s largest cohort study, following the health of more than 250,000 NSW men and women aged over 45 years, to enable researchers to answer questions about our ageing population.

Professor Banks said that while Australia had extensive data on cancer incidence, mortality and overall survival, there was limited data on the survivor experience, particularly in a patient-centred context.

“Big data have transformed cancer prevention, screening and management,” she said. “This funding will support a world first – researchers working with cancer survivors to apply big data to the outcomes that matter most for the many millions of people living with cancer.”

CEO of Cancer Council Australia, Professor Sanchia Aranda said we need to know a lot more about the cancer experience to inform improved support for survivors.

“This study is a landmark in researching patient-centred outcomes. We congratulate our long-term collaborator, Professor Banks, and also Minister Hunt for highlighting this type of research and its importance.”

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