Collaboration key to cancer fight

A free La Trobe University Bendigo public lecture will highlight the positive outcomes that are being achieved in the fight to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer due to a collaborative approach being adopted by specialists from different scientific and medical fields.

Breast cancer cell photographed by a scanning electron microscope. Christopher Bradley, researcher and lecturer at La Trobe University Bendigo, said progress towards prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancers was constantly being made. But it was only when scientists and medical experts from different professional backgrounds collaborated that rapid progress was possible.

‘Advances are being made because of small, constant improvements across such diverse fields as radiotherapy, chemotherapy, immunology, hormonal therapy and surgery.

‘When combined these small improvements dramatically improve the treatment of cancer. When disciplines combined their efforts, the progress is much faster,’ said Dr Bradley.

Until the 1950s the majority of patients had access to one treatment option only; surgery. While this was effective against the primary tumours, secondary tumours would often spread through the body, dramatically lowering life expectancy.

‘The need to treat secondary tumours drove the development of modern treatment regimes, which prescribed combinations of treatments by specialists from multiple fields.’

Dr Bradley said that in the 1970s one in two cancer patients survived five years after diagnosis. By the mid-2000s two out of three survived for the same period of time.

‘This is due to new and improved therapies, increased collaboration between professionals and increased rates of early detection and diagnosis.’

Dr Bradley is continuing his cancer research, which aims to make a major contribution to La Trobe University’s aim to be among the best in the world in research that addresses the big social and environmental issues of our time. Understanding Disease is one of four research focus areas that would make a significant contribution towards that aim.

‘This research focus area builds on the University’s pre-existing research strengths,’ said Dr Bradley.

‘For example for the past four years I’ve had the pleasure of collaborating with La Trobe University researchers Dr Terri Meehan-Andrews, Dr Jasim Al-Rawi and the staff of the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre Bendigo.

‘We are working with sensitizers, drugs which sensitize cancer cells to the effects of chemotherapy and radiotherapy.  This allows us to use less radiation and less chemotherapy to achieve the same result.

Dr Bradley will present the 2013 Worner Lecture, entitled ‘Cancer Therapy: The Long March from Observation to Reason.’ The lecture will provide an overview of the development of cancer therapies from the 1900s until today, highlighting the personal stories of early pioneers and charting the development of modern therapies.

The free public lecture is on Wednesday 11 September at 6.30pm in La Trobe University Bendigo Campus’s Circular Lecture Theatre. To RSVP click here or call 5444 7374.

Media enquiries

Zerin Knight, Media Liaison, T 03 5444 7375, M 0428 463 161 E


Tom O’Callaghan, Media Assistant, T 03 5444 7417, M 0408 900 469