CANCER will be in the spotlight at a free community forum in Bendigo tonight.
The event, “Cancer in the Community”, aims to demystify cancer and will run at the Bendigo District RSL in Havilah Road from 6.30pm to 8pm.
The forum will be hosted by public health specialist Sue Carrick who will speak about the history of cancer, how to reduce the risk of developing cancer and how embracing a healthy lifestyle can help with its management.
The Bendigo event launches a new three-year national awareness and education partnership between world leading medical research organisation, Garvan Institute of Medical Research and Ridley AgriProducts.
Ms Carrick is the author of Australia’s first action plan on breast cancer and draws links between healthy lifestyles and reduced cancer risks.
“The evidence shows 30 per cent of cancer incidents could be prevented if people made changes to their lifestyles,” she said.
“At the top of that list is smoking – it’s a no brainer really – and second we have alcohol.
“Weight is also very strongly associated with cancers but also high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
“About 60 per cent of Australians are considered overweight or obese so we’re right up there with the US.
“The more we expose ourselves to these lifestyle characteristics the more we expose ourselves to cancer.”
Ms Carrick will also speak about the history of cancer, including when fresh dates with pig brains were considered cutting edge treatment options in ancient Egypt.
There will also be a discussion about local support services and where Bendigo residents can go to get help.
Garvan Research Foundation chief executive Andrew Giles said the “Cancer in the Community” forum was deliberately taking a positive approach to dealing with cancer as part of its Healthy Families, Healthy Communities initiative.
“People are understandably daunted by the whole notion of cancer. Its impacts are far reaching and take an enormous toll on the community at large,” he said.
“We want to demystify cancer, promote prevention and build awareness about medical research in rural and regional Australia.
“The forum will also highlight the exciting new research being undertaken at Garvan in this important area.”
Mr Giles said cancer research had come a long way in recent years.
“The speed with which we’re developing new research is incredible and it’s changing the way we treat cancer patients.
“Now when someone is diagnosed, it’s what treatment option will work best for you.
“It’s no longer the one drug or treatment plan for everyone approach.
“The era of personalised medicine is becoming a reality.”