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The whole 9 years

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Ian Olver considers his time at Cancer Council Australia and suggests embracing cancer treatment, prevention and research provides a comprehensive cancer control experience

The transition from clinical oncology to public policy as part of my role at Cancer Council Australia was challenging, but it used, as background, the patient-centred focus of clinical practice. Good policy affects millions at a time as compared to influencing one patient at a time in practice. I came to appreciate the importance of federal governments that were prepared to focus not only on short-term policy goals but also support initiatives where the benefits would not be realised until the longer term. In cancer control that often translates to funding prevention measures as well as treatment.

Probably the most satisfying of the Cancer Council’s advocacy goals achieved during my time as chief executive officer was when successive governments supported the introduction of a bowel cancer screening program for Australia. Although progress was slow, there is now a commitment to completing the implementation of the program by 2020. Conservative estimates show that this program alone will save at least 500 Australian lives each year.1

The most effective anticancer measure remains tobacco control. Here we could join with a well established team of campaigners, some lifelong, to continue the battle with the tobacco…