Dr Aaron Thrift, from QIMR’s Cancer Control Group, said the incidence of oesophageal adenocarcinoma (OAC) had increased markedly in Western populations in the past forty years.
“But some recent reports suggested that the rate of increase had slowed, or plateau-ed,”Dr Thrift said.
”I’m afraid our research shows that oesophageal adenocarcinoma rates are still rising in Australia and the United States, and will continue to rise in coming decades. It remains, in fact, the fastest rising cancer in Australia.”
About 700 Australians are diagnosed with OAC each year and the prognosis is grim. Seven in 10 patients will die within five years.
Dr Thrift’s research found the incidence in Australian men was increasing by about 2% each year.
“It’s a disease that predominantly affects men, occurring up to seven times more frequently than in women. Clinicians need to anticipate an increase in the numbers of men presenting with this potentially fatal cancer.”
Dr Thrift’s team have now developed a risk model to determine the likelihood of a person developing OAC in a five-year period.
“We’ve incorporated the known risk factors into the model, such as gastro-oesophageal reflux, obesity and smoking. We’ve also factored in aspirin intake, which has been shown to have positive health benefits,” Dr Thrift said.
“What this means is we can now determine who is at higher risk of developing OAC, and target them for cancer prevention strategies, including changes to their diet and lifestyle.”
The Queensland Institute of Medical Research has been given $2.4 million in Federal funding from the NHMRC to bring together Australia’s major oesophageal cancer research teams, in a Centre of Research Excellence.
Dr Thrifts’ two studies were published in Annals of Oncology and Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology.
He was recently the recipient of a four-year NHMRC Early Career Fellowship.
Aaron Thrift is available for interview
The Queensland Institute of Medical Research (QIMR) is a world leading translational research institute focused on cancer, infectious diseases, mental health and a range of complex diseases. Working in close collaboration with clinicians and other research institutes, our aim is to improve health by developing new diagnostics, better treatments and prevention strategies.
QIMR gratefully acknowledges the support of the Queensland Government.
This research was conducted in QIMR’s Clive Berghofer Cancer Research Centre, a state of the art research facility named in honour of leading Queensland philanthropist, Mr Clive Berghofer AM, in recognition of his contribution to the Institute’s Cancer Research Program.
For more information about QIMR, visitwww.qimr.edu.au