Volunteer Voice October

New podcast helps cancer patients navigate through a diagnosis

Queenslanders affected by cancer can now tune in to a new podcast series to help them navigate through their cancer journey.

The new series, ‘The Thing About Cancer’, includes 10 information podcasts designed for people affected by cancer, including carers, family members and friends.

Cancer Council Queensland CEO Ms Chris McMillan said as more people looked to access their information online and on-the-go the podcasts were a vital resource to offer.

“Podcasts increase access to cancer information, particularly for people who are time poor or feel too unwell to read, and those who have low literacy or low vision,” Ms McMillan said.

“The podcast series will be another source of trusted information for people to turn to, complementing our existing cancer information resources, which are available in print and online.

“Podcasts are an increasingly popular way for people to gain information and we are always exploring new and innovative ways for people to access support that is relevant to them.”

The podcasts, produced by Cancer Council NSW, are hosted by radio broadcaster and cancer survivor, Julie McCrossin, and feature expert guests and people with personal experiences of cancer.

The podcasts cover topics such as coping with cancer, explaining cancer to kids, how cancer can affect the carer, and sex and cancer.

The free podcasts are available now to download from the Cancer Council NSW website or via the iTunes store. Visit cancercouncil.com.au/podcasts for more information about the series and upcoming episodes.

Supporters reveal their new calendar

The Pink Belles are a Sunshine Coast group of nine amazing women who have been fundraising for Cancer Council Queensland for the past 10 years. Since forming, the group have raised over $87,000 by supporting Cancer Council campaigns and are hoping to soon reach their goal of $100,000 raised.

During their AGM in January one of the group’s founding members, Donna, jokingly suggested they do a ‘calendar girls’ style calendar to celebrate their anniversary and raise funds. To her surprise, the rest of the group thought it was a great idea and they quickly started working to create it.

With the help of local supporters, the group secured the photography, hair and make-up, and even a print sponsor to produce these high quality calendars for just over $2 each.

Each month features cute and strategically placed costumes that are sure to make you giggle, with all proceeds being donated directly to Cancer Council Queensland.

Calendars are $12 each. Visit thepinkbelles.com to preview or purchase a calendar.

Queensland-first study set to help close regional cancer divide

One regional Queenslander will die every day from cancer because they live outside a major city – a statistic Queensland researchers are dedicated to changing.

Leading researchers from Cancer Council Queensland and University of Southern Queensland have launched a Queensland-first study, Travelling for Treatment, investigating the experiences of rural and regional cancer patients who are required to travel for treatment.

Cancer patients staying at Cancer Council’s accommodation lodges across the state will be invited to participate to help researchers better understand why cancer survival rates are lower in country areas than in the city.
University of Southern Queensland Professor of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Professor Jeff Dunn AO, said gaining a deeper understanding into the challenges faced by regional Queenslanders would shape future initiatives and support services designed to combat regional inequalities.

“A cancer diagnosis in rural and regional Australia is unfortunately associated with poorer survival rates and lower quality of life when compared to metropolitan areas,” Prof Dunn said.

“This is concerning, considering that 30 per cent of all Australians live outside a major population centre.

“This geographical disparity is potentially due to a range of access, socio-demographic, behavioural and cultural factors, unique to non-metropolitan Australians, which exacerbate the challenges associated with living with and treating cancer – but more research needs to be done.

“This new project aims to understand the journey of a regional cancer patient, from diagnosis, through treatment and follow-up.

“We are especially interested in perceptions about cancer screening, diagnosis and treatment pathways; satisfaction with healthcare; and the unique needs of regional and rural people.

“The research will help us develop and implement interventions to improve outcomes for regional and rural cancer patients and their carers, especially those who must travel for treatment.”

Cancer Council Queensland CEO Ms Chris McMillan said closing the gap in regional survival was core to Cancer Council’s mission and key to cancer control in Queensland.

“We are proud to partner with USQ to investigate ways of bridging the health divide by connecting with regional cancer patients,” Ms McMillan said.

“It has long been established that cancer patients living in outer regional areas are more likely to die within five years of a diagnosis than those living in cities.

“More than 27,000 Queenslanders are diagnosed with cancer each year and 8700 die from the disease.

“Our research estimates 13 per cent of all regional cancer deaths are preventable, with about 350 deaths avoidable each year if survival rates in the bush were equal to those in the city.”

The project will invite over 3500 cancer patients and their carers staying at Cancer Council’s Accommodation Lodges to participate by sharing their experiences through interviews and surveys.

The study will cover topics including the burden of a diagnosis on health, adherence to treatment, attitudes and stigma associated with cancer, knowledge of support services and care needs, and general demographics.
More information about Cancer Council Queensland is available at cancerqld.org.au or 13 11 20.

Genetic association study of MIRSNPS with risk and prognosis of prostate cancer

Principle Researcher: Dr Jyotsna Batra

Co-Chief Investigator: Professor Judith ClementsAssociate Professor Amanda SpurdleProfessor George Yousef

Project Location: Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation, QUT Translational Research Institute

Project Outline: Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in Australian males. Prostate cancer accounts for around 30 per cent of all new cancers in men, with roughly one in five men developing it before the age of 85. Treatment methods like prostatectomy or radiotherapy often result in reduced quality of life. The non-invasive ways of detecting prostate cancer at present can sometimes lead to misdiagnosis, adding to the burden of stress on patients.

Given that prostate specific antigen (PSA) screening is only marginally effective, a more directed approach to identify better prostate cancer diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers is critically needed.

MicroRNA (miRNA) are small non-coding parts of the genome, which regulate translation of the genetic code to proteins in our body. It is estimated that approximately 30 per cent of human genes are under the control of miRNAs, and this estimate is proposed to be even higher in cancer. We hypothesise that genetic variations in miRNA can affect their impact on prostate cancer pathogenesis.

There are approximately 200 regulated miRNAs currently identified in prostate cancer, which is estimated to harbor more than 6000 miRSNPs in total. A comprehensive genetic association study to identify prostate cancer risk and/or prognosis miRSNPs in these miRNAs and/or their target genes has not yet been undertaken. We have recently genotyped some of these miRSNPs using custom SNP chip Oncoarray (human mapping).

We will be analysing the association of these miRNA related genetic variations in 100,000 individuals for prostate cancer risk, aggressiveness and survival. The outcomes of this study will contribute towards the establishment of miRNA related genetic variations as blood based non-invasive clinical biomarkers of prostate cancer.

Project Goals:

  • To identify the functional consequences cell proliferation and migration) of miRSNPs within the additional two genes relating to metabolism in cancer.
  • To confirm the causal SNPs behind two of the GWAS identified marker SNPs.

Current volunteer opportunities

We are excited to be currently seeking volunteers for the following roles:
Fortitude Valley (Brisbane) – Data Entry Volunteer

Mackay – Retail and Administration Volunteer

Toowoomba – Regional Administration Volunteer and a Repair and Maintenance Volunteer at the Lodge

Details are available on our volunteer page or by phoning the Volunteer Hotline on 1300 851 957. Be sure to share these opportunities with your family and friends.