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Australian Researchers Map the Way to a Cancer-Free Future

Tim Macuga News

11 April 2017

Health experts today launched an Australian-first research study to understand national patterns in cancer incidence, survival and screening practices based on where people live.

The Atlas of Cancer in Australia will, for the first time, allow health agencies, policy makers and the community to understand the location and resource requirements for the most common cancers in Australia.

The 18-month research project is a partnership between Cancer Council, Queensland University of Technology (QUT), the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), and Australia and New Zealand Cooperative Research Centre for Spatial Information (CRCSI).

Left to right: Prof Joanne Aitken, CCQ Head of Research; Chris McMillan, CCQ CEO, Prof Kerrie Mengersen, QUT-ACEMS; Chris McAlister, CRCSI QLD Business Development Manager

Left to right: Prof Joanne Aitken, CCQ Head of Research; Chris McMillan, CCQ CEO, Prof Kerrie Mengersen, QUT-ACEMS; Chris McAlister, CRCSI QLD Business Development Manager

Cancer Council Queensland CEO Ms Chris McMillan said the Atlas of Cancer in Australia was based on the success of CCQ’s Atlas of Cancer in Queensland, released in 2011.

“This ground-breaking project will build on years of earlier work by CCQ to better understand the cancer divide between metropolitan and rural areas, as well as mapping the gaps linked to socio-economic status and other demographic factors,” Ms McMillan said.

The Atlas of Cancer in Australia will be underpinned by state-of-the-art statistical models and analyses developed by award-winning statisticians from CCQ and QUT.

Team members from QUT are led by Distinguished Professor Kerrie Mengersen, who is also Deputy Director for the ARC Centre of Excellence for Mathematical and Statistical Frontiers (ACEMS).

Dist. Prof. Kerrie Mengersen, ACEMS Deputy Director

ACEMS Deputy Director Kerrie Mengersen

“We’re all affected by cancer, so statistics in this case are not just numbers. We see data as a story and by using statistical methods and visualisations, we’re able to break open that data and see what the stories are,” Prof. Mengersen said.

The Atlas will be an online, interactive digital resource, with a strong focus on novel visualisation methods that will guide users to appropriately interpret the significance of the geographical patterns.

“For the first time, you’ll be able to go online and drill down to your area where you live and be able to see the cancer rates and the survival rates for your area for the different cancers,” Prof Mengersen said. “That’s an enormous insight that individuals will be able to have for their area, and for organisations in local areas to be able to improve conditions for cancer patients in their communities.”

Other ACEMS team members involved with the project include ACEMS researchers Jessie Roberts and Earl Duncan, and Associate Investigator Dr Susanna Cramb, who is now with Cancer Council Queensland.

For more information or interviews, please contact:

Katie Clift, Executive Manager, Media and Spokesperson, Cancer Council Queensland Ph: (07) 3634 5372 or 0409 001 171

Tim Macuga, Communications Officer, ACEMS, 07 3138 6741 or 0478 571 226, timothy.macuga@qut.edu.au