kids

Childhood cancers 'will be curable in the not too distant future': researchers.

This month marks 48 years since man first walked on the moon, a feat many would have thought impossible decades earlier, much like curing all childhood cancer.

But astronaut Neil Armstrong did take mankind’s first steps in space on July 20, 1969.

Similarly, it’s not inconceivable to think all childhood cancers will be curable in the not too distant future, says oncologist and leading Australian researcher Professor Roger Reddel, Director of the Children’s Medical Research (CMRI) Institute.

“Fifty years ago very few if any children survived childhood leukaemia and now the cure rate is upwards of 80 per cent,” Professor Reddel said.

However some forms of the deadly disease, like many neuroblastomas – cancer found in nerve tissue – continue to defy understanding and there has been very little improvement in survival.

“Our aim is one day that we will be able to cure all cases, it’s not a matter of eradicating in a sense that no child will get cancer but we are working towards a day when every child can be cured of their cancer,” said Prof Reddel.

“There’s lots of room for improvement and I’m quite confident that that will happen it’s just a matter of when and how fast we can get that and that’s all a matter of resources,” Professor Reddel told AAP.

"Fifty years ago very few if any children survived childhood leukaemia and now the cure rate is upwards of 80 per cent," Professor Reddel said. (Image: Getty)
ADVERTISEMENT

Research needs money, which is why former swimming champion, one of the ambassador's for this years's Jeans for Genes day is imploring people to go "crazy" for denim on August 4.

The national fundraiser supports the CMRI and currently helps to fund the ProCan initiative.

ProCan uses specialised equipment to analyse 70,000 cancer samples from all over the world.

This will lead to a better understanding of cancer and ultimately enable doctors to diagnose their patients within 24-36 hours and determine the most effective treatment.

"This is all about extracting data out of the tumours that will help the cancer clinician make the best possible choice for each individual patient," said Prof Reddel.

"What we're particularly focused on is the proteins in cancers because it's the protein that primarily determines the response to treatment," he said.

LISTEN: Sally Obermeder chats to Mia Freedman about her cancer journey on the No Filter podcast (post continues after audio...)

ProCan last year signed a memorandum of understanding with the United States' National Cancer Institute as part of Vice President Joe Biden's Cancer Moonshot Initiative - aimed at achieving a decades' worth of progress in five years in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer.

Biden believes breaking down the "silos" between government, institutions and industry to pool data on cancer patients is key to finding a cure. The information generated by ProCan will be free for anyone to access.

A substantial proportion of Jeans for Genes funding will also go to efforts to find treatments for rare genetic diseases.

Jeans for Genes Day is on the 4th of August. People can register their support by visiting jeansforgenes.org.au and checking out their Facebook page.

00:00 / ???