Understanding Queensland's cancer research capabilities

27 July 2023

Health Translation Queensland (HTQ) has released the Queensland Cancer Research and Translation Funding Analysis Report (HTQ Cancer Funding Analysis 2023). The report is a comprehensive analysis of federal research funding that is awarded to cancer research bodies in Queensland. The report also includes an analysis of Queensland’s cancer clinical trial activity, and cancer incidence and mortality rates in Queensland.

While research has led to many advances in cancer screening, diagnosis and treatment, cancer remains a major health problem. It is a leading cause of death in Australia, with one in 2 Australians expected to develop cancer and one in 5 dying from the disease. In Queensland, there are approximately 33,000 cancer diagnoses and more than 9,700 deaths from cancer annually.

Cancer funding analysis

The Queensland Cancer Research and Translation Funding Analysis Report (Cancer Funding Analysis 2023) states that between 2018 and 2021, Queensland cancer researchers secured more than $108 million in National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) grants.

The state’s cancer research funding outcomes align with HTQ’s Health and Medical Research Funding Analysis Report, with Queensland receiving approximately 14% of NHMRC funding and 12% of MRFF funding. These figures are less than expected, given Queensland represents approximately 20% of Australia’s population and contributes 19% to Australia’s Gross Domestic Product.

Cancer research strengths

Skin, gynaecological, haematological, breast and lung cancer research secured most of the federal funding. These disease areas can be considered the strengths of cancer research endeavours in Queensland.

However, research activity in these areas does not match the state’s highest incidences of cancer and mortalities. For example, colorectal and prostate cancer researchers received significantly less NHMRC/MRFF funding (collectively 2.5%) compared to the incidence and mortality of these cancers in Queensland.

HTQ also found that generally, Queensland clinicians and/or researchers participate in, rather than lead, national cancer treatment trials. However, Queensland researchers and/or clinicians are leaders in survivorship, symptom management and palliative care, followed by prevention and diagnosis trials.

Queensland also has strengths in discovery research and pre-clinical cancer models.

Greater collaboration and integration

HTQ’s latest report reinforces the case for greater collaboration and integration of cancer research and translation in Queensland.

The Queensland research community, state government and hospital and health services have opportunities to:

  • address the disparities in cancer outcomes across cancer types and cultural, geographical, and socio-economic status.
  • provide Queenslanders with the best care across the patient journey, from prevention to diagnosis, treatment, survivorship, and palliative care.

Recommendations related to all of these elements are included in the HTQ Roadmap for Strengthening Health Research and Translation in Queensland 2022.

For more information visit the Cancer Funding Analysis 2023 webpage or read the media release.

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