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Wednesday, 27 August 2003

Frank Sartor to open Sydney Children's Hospital Family Cancer Day

Science and Medical Research Minister Frank Sartor will open the fifth annual Kids Cancer Update at Sydney Children's Hospital, Randwick this Sunday, August 24 at 9.15am.

The day is hosted by Sydney Children's Hospital's Centre for Childhood Cancer and Blood Disorders (CCCBD) and supported by Children's Cancer Institute Australia (CCIA).

Sydney Children's Hospital cancer specialist Dr Richard Cohn said today the event is a hospital staff initiative and aims to build strong support networks for parents of children with cancer and their extended families.

It is also an opportunity for parents to hear the latest information about cancer treatments, outcomes, research and the different support groups available to assist families affected by cancer.

Dr Cohn said Sydney Children's Hospital is very focussed on supporting the whole family of a child diagnosed with cancer.

He said one of the main benefits of the day is that it provides parents of children recently diagnosed with cancer the opportunity to interact with parents whose children have just completed treatment, as well as with patients who are now long-term survivors of childhood cancer.

'This year we are expecting more than 130 parents and children from all over Sydney, which indicates the demand for this type of information day,' Dr Cohn said.

'Importantly, our country families won't miss out as for the very first time we have arranged a teleconference link to regional centres like Newcastle, Dubbo, Wagga, Tamworth and Coffs Harbour as well as Canberra.

'This is very significant because more than 50 per cent of our patients come from rural New South Wales. While we have used videoconferencing to communicate with our country patients for some time, many families have been unable to attend seminars such as this, so we are pleased to launch this new initiative on Sunday.'

Parent of a cancer survivor and CCIA Board Member Michael Maher said the Institute is committed to its partnership with the CCCBD in supporting parents whose children have been diagnosed with cancer.

'The Kids Cancer Update is an opportunity for people to be reassured they are not alone,' he said.

'By providing people with an opportunity to access the latest information about cancer research and treatments as well as meet with other parents, we hope to further empower people in the fight against cancer.'

Seminars and discussion groups will be held throughout the day between 9.00am to 5.00pm. Topics include side effects and long term effects of cancer treatments, causes of childhood cancer and latest research developments.

Representatives from other childhood cancer support groups will be available to answer questions including Malcolm Sargent Cancer Fund, Camp Quality, The Ronald McDonald House Charity and Canteen.

Kids Cancer Update is free with lunch and child-minding provided, courtesy of the CCIA. For more details contact Jan Hardy on (02) 9382 1727 or Melissa Perry on (02) 9382 0063.

Childhood Cancer Information

* Over 500 cases of childhood cancer are diagnosed in Australia every year.
* In Australia, more children die from cancer than any other disease.
* Medical research has come a long way in the fight against childhood cancer. Up until the 1960s, cancer was generally a fatal condition in children. In the 1970s, the overall survival rate rose to around 50 per cent.
* Today, 70 per cent of children diagnosed with cancer will survive, but 30 per cent do not make it.

Centre for Childhood Cancer and Blood Disorders (CCCBD)

CCCBD, Sydney Children's Hospital Randwick is dedicated to finding new ways of treating and curing the children that come through its doors. To this end, the Centre conducts research into new ways of treating, supporting and caring for our patients.

Children's Cancer Institute Australia (CCIA)

CCIA is the only independent medical research institute in Australia solely devoted to research into the causes, prevention and cure of childhood cancer. Since the Institute was established in 1976, its vision has remained unchanged - to save the lives of all children with cancer and eliminate their suffering. Located in Randwick, Sydney, the Institute houses over 100 scientists working across seven different research programs.

For Further Information Contact:

Rachel Stewart, Public Affairs Manager Tel: 9382 3571 - Mob: 0411 730 842



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