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Cancer control is not beyond us … but could be if we don’t invest wisely

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There must be a balanced investment portfolio in cancer control

The 2015 World Cancer Day theme is “Not beyond us”. It is recognised worldwide that we need to invest wisely in areas of cancer control that will actually deliver the very best outcomes for patients and the community more broadly. The Choosing Wisely program is an exemplar of large health systems optimising outcomes while disinvesting in practices that, at best, add cost and, at worst, add substantially to patients’ harms.1

Australia needs to invest wisely in cancer control, or the rate at which outcomes have improved in the past 30 years will not be maintained.2,3 Action in three areas will guarantee better cancer outcomes across the population:

  • Continuing to reduce the use of tobacco. In the 50th anniversary report of the United States Surgeon General (2014) outlining the relationship between cancer and smoking, a new relationship was highlighted: that people who continue to smoke even after a diagnosis of cancer have subsequent higher all-cause and cancer-specific mortality compared with people who ceased smoking at such a time.4 Efforts to reduce tobacco use need to be complemented by an increased focus on other lifestyle behaviours, such as physical activity and reducing body mass…