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Monday, 9 February 2015
Page: 184


Mr WILLIAMS (Hindmarsh) (11:56): I would like to thank the member for Shortland for putting this issue before the chamber. As we all know, ovarian cancer is one of the major cancers that we face in our society. Many years ago in my state a federal senator, Senator Jeannie Ferris, lost a battle to ovarian cancer. I only met Jeannie a number of times, but she was a fine and decent woman. She, like many others, lost the battle too early to ovarian cancer.

We know this is a horrible cancer and one which we need research to look into further. The diagnosis, as we have heard, is generally through ultrasound. As ultrasound is not a common procedure in everyday life, diagnosis is often only realised by chance when doctors are looking for something else. As a consequence, it is often made very late, and we have heard from colleagues from both sides of the House to this effect. It can hit at any age too, and there have been some remarkable improvements in the ability of suffers to conceive children. Previously, when young women faced this cancer, there was no opportunity for them to have children as the treatment would leave them infertile. Now there is an increased chance of younger women being able to have children should they wish to. Thanks to the improvements in IVF, this is now possible. Like all other cancers, we need to look into survival rates and ways to improve them. We have made great strides in this respect, but there is a lot of work to do and more can be done.

Prior to entering parliament, I decided that I wanted to raise money for certain causes and charities, and now I am looking at how I can help the cancer community throughout Australia, but naturally my focus is in South Australia. Together with my wife, we raised money for children with cancer in a charity bike ride in the Clare Valley in South Australia. Only a few weeks ago I participated in the Bupa Challenge Tour, as part of this year's Tour Down Under, where thousands of riders rode together, a number supporting cancer under the Ride for a Reason concept. Some riders raised around $10,000. My amount was not so high, but I want to put on the public record my thanks to the family and friends who gave generous financial support. Next Saturday another cancer event, this time for breast cancer, will be held at my local surf club at West Beach in Adelaide. In its first year there were around 80 swimmers. In the second year there were 400, including the state Liberal leader, Steven Marshall, and there was $10,000 raised last year, which was donated to the National Breast Cancer Foundation. We look forward to many more fine donations and swimmers like me getting out there next Saturday.

I want to touch on some general statistics for cancer in South Australia. Every day, 25 South Australians are diagnosed with cancer. Cancer is currently, as we know, the leading cause of death in Australia. One in two Australians will develop cancer, and one in five will have died of cancer by the age of 85. There is hope, however. We know that survival rates have increased by 19 per cent in the last two decades, and we know how to prevent or detect early up to 50 per cent of cancers. Regrettably, though, with the risk of cancer increasing, successful treatment is needed, as is early detection.

There is an important project that the Cancer Council in South Australia is undertaking and that I am keen to support. It is a bold new project that is looking at increasing the accommodation for cancer sufferers, building a purpose built cancer centre, the first of its kind, a facility providing accommodation services, research and prevention activities.

I want to briefly touch on the successes Australia has had in medical research, because I think this is part of the overall debate. Whether it be the Gardasil cervical cancer vaccine or the creation of the spray-on skin by Dr Fiona Wood or the development of the first penicillin based antibiotic by Howard Florey, there are important developments and successes we have had in medical research.

Going back to the Cancer Council operations in the western suburbs, pre-treatment chemotherapy, post-treatment care, management of treatment reviews and ongoing coordination of treatment services by nurse coordinators are all planned for this facility. One hundred and eighty rooms are planned for country South Australians, who can travel to the city for treatment, including family suites and culturally appropriate facilities. In closing, we know that greater research is required for ovarian cancer and that diagnosis has to be early to ensure better rates of survival. I support the motion.