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The Cancer Council has estimated that up to 1,300 lives could be saved each year if the ‘geographical disparities’ in cancer survival were removed, coinciding with the announcement of the new update to its jointly designed Australian Cancer Atlas.

The Atlas, created with the Queensland University of Technology, is an interactive online resource that helps health and policy experts, as well as the broader community, understand how the cancer burden varies by small geographical areas across Australia.

Available to anyone, whether they belong to the general public or have an active academic and policy interest in the intersection of cancer research and geo-spatial data, the new edition also includes ‘geographical patterns’ on the rare blood cancer group, myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs).

First released in 2018 by Cancer Council and QUT, it seeks to visualise and identify geographical patterns relating to the spread of cancer in Australia, and subsequently influence the future direction of relevant research and policy, with the Cancer Council’s estimate highlighting the potential importance of such resources.

With similar approaches now emulated in countries such as New Zealand and the Netherlands, more than 47,500 active users have utilised the resource since its 2018 launch.

The project has also achieved funding success, securing Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage funding for the next three years and ensuring what the Cancer Council calls the next phase of the Atlas.

Nevertheless, according to a researcher at Cancer Council Queensland, Professor Peter Baade, the new version of the Atlas will continue to be a useful resource for the health and science community.

“The Australian Cancer Atlas has already proven itself to be an invaluable resource and benefit to many Australians, gaining industry, scientific and community acclaim,” Professor Baade said.

“By updating the data contained in the Atlas ensures it remains relevant and provides a great foundation for the next phase of development.”

Meanwhile, QUT Distinguished Professor Kerrie Mengersen, a co-lead on the Atlas, shared Professor Baade’s positivity about the new edition of the Atlas.

“The Australian Cancer Atlas is a shining example of what can be achieved by combining cross-institutional expertise in statistics, e-research and cancer,” Professor Mengersen said.

“This collaboration is inspiring since it not only benefits our community but also leads to new knowledge and new research.”

More information on the Atlas can be found at a web platform hosted by the Cancer Council of Australia.