Cancer control under new management

March 2016

Professor Sanchia Aranda, CEO of Cancer Council Australia and UICC President-elect will lead the organisations and Melbourne into the next stage of development in cancer control.

Melbourne sits in a very formidable position in the cancer space.  Oncology and immunology research has always been one of the city’s major strengths, but that grew into a global presence after we hosted the 2014 UICC World Cancer Congress, which attracted the world leaders in cancer medicine, research and patient care.  The Congress, held every two years, was an important event marking Melbourne’s place as a research and development engine in oncology and immunology.

It is hoped that this reputation will be further cemented under the leadership of Club Melbourne Ambassador Professor Sanchia Aranda, who was involved in the organisation of the Congress and was appointed during the event as President elect of the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC).

More recently in June 2015, Professor Aranda was also appointed to the role of CEO of Cancer Council Australia.

It might be surprising to learn that the new CEO started her career when she was training as a registered nurse in New Zealand, nearly 40 years ago. However humble her beginnings may have been, Professor Aranda has gone on to become one of the leading specialists in the control of cancer and palliative care.

As well as having a Bachelor of Applied Science, a Masters of Nursing and a Doctorate of Philosophy under her belt, the CEO has been a researcher, clinician, educator and health administrator in the cancer control space. She is well known for her contributions to advisory committees and boards on a state, national and international level.

In addition to her upcoming UICC Presidency, Professor Aranda is also a former President of the International Society of Nurses in Cancer Care.

In a time where there is a significant focus on integrating cancer research, services and the prioritisation of funding, no one doubted what she could contribute to the sector when she was appointed to these roles. As the new national head of Australia’s largest cancer charity and one of the oldest and most successful health peak bodies in the world, Professor Aranda occupies a unique and critical position.

Professor Aranda’s wide ranging experiences gives her the ability to understand the perspectives of patients, families, clinicians, researchers and health administrators, as well as being aware of the challenges and opportunities that present themselves in the control of cancer. For Cancer Council Australia, and for Professor Aranda, the key is applying those perspectives and the evidence to improved equity in cancer outcomes.

In the past, she has made no secret that she would like to improve the survival rate of indigenous Australians who only have a 40 percent chance of surviving cancer over five years, compared to the national average of 66 percent. It’s a stark figure but unreported disparities would be even wider.

"I often think this is our national shame, that we need to do much more, and that many of these outcomes are as poor as many of the poorest countries in our region,” she said.

If this is anything to go by, it seems that improving outcomes for indigenous Australians will be one of Professor Aranda’s priorities in her role as CEO – part of a renewed focus on reducing inequity.

“Cancer survival rates in Australia are up with the world’s best,” Professor Aranda said. “But the overall cancer burden is increasing, along with widening gaps in outcomes. Inequities exist among different population groups but also between cancer types. Our job as an independent voice is to contribute to a cancer control sector informed by the evidence and focused on equity and sustainability.”

Professor Aranda has the experience and skills necessary to lead Cancer Council Australia and UICC into a new era of cancer control and as one of our own Club Melbourne Ambassadors; we look forward to seeing what she can achieve in the coming years and what this brings to Melbourne.