The Descriptive Epidemiology Research Program investigates the characteristics of the cancer burden among the Australian population, including those relating to cancer diagnosis, treatment, survival and mortality. Understanding these patterns helps identify areas of improvement or need and guides further investigation of what factors impact on diagnosis, clinical management, health services delivery and cancer outcomes.
There are three major themes of research in this area:
- Geographical patterns in cancer burden across Australia
- Experiences of women diagnosed with breast cancer
- Effective communication of cancer statistics
The program also provides in-house statistical and methodological support across the research activities of the Viertel Centre and Cancer Council Queensland more generally.
Australian Cancer Atlas
Launched in 2018, the industry-award winning Australian Cancer Atlas (https://atlas.cancer.org.au) provided a free online interactive atlas that visualised how the cancer incidence and survival patterns for 20 cancer types varied across Australia by small geographical area. Ongoing collaborations with other researchers, particularly those at Queensland University of Technology, were crucial to the success of the Atlas. Further developments to the Atlas are currently in progress; these will include a wider range of cancer-related indicators, information about how these geographical patterns have changed over time, and improve the method of communicating the key messages from the Atlas to users.
Breast Cancer Outcomes study
During the early-mid 2010s Cancer Council Queensland conducted a large study involving over 3,300 Queensland women diagnosed with breast cancer. Known as the Breast Cancer Outcomes Study, the information collected has already provided unique insights into the experiences of these women. Analyses of these data are continuing, with a particular focus on finding out predictors of better treatment, psychological and survival outcomes.
Communication of cancer statistics
We have an ongoing goal to make statistical information about cancer in Queensland widely available to the public. Currently, this is provided through the Queensland Cancer Statistics Online (QCSOL), which provides a free, interactive platform containing statistics on cancer diagnoses, deaths, survival and prevalence for common types of cancer among Queensland residents, along with regional-specific information. Further work is being undertaken to broaden the type of information provided to users, and also incorporating additional more interactive methods of communicating that information.