Cancer Australia releases latest cancer research funding report

Release Date

Cancer Australia has released the findings of its third national audit of cancer research funding in Australia.

Total funding of cancer research investment in Australia has increased more than 3-fold from $292 million in 2003–2005 to $934 million in 2018–2020.

Cancer Research in Australia: an overview of funding for cancer research projects and programs in Australia 2012-2020, includes new data, describes the number of research projects and programs directly funded and the amount of funding that has been provided.  

Cancer remains the leading cause of death in Australia. A knowledge of the patterns of national funding to cancer research provides an understanding of trends in cancer research focal areas and provides opportunities to optimise priority areas for strategic investment in the future.  

“Cancer remains a national health priority in Australia with significant implications for individuals, families, communities and the health system,” said Cancer Australia CEO Dorothy Keefe.   

Professor Keefe says findings from the audit provide the cancer research sector  with an opportunity to analyse our national research efforts and gain evidence-based insights to inform future cancer research investment and focus, and Australian Cancer Plan implementation. 

Approximately 162,163 Australians are expected to have been diagnosed with cancer in 2022, an average of 444 people each day. This number is projected to continue to rise and by 2031, around 185,475 people are expected to be diagnosed with cancer in Australia. 

The Australian Government was the largest funder of cancer research projects and research programs, providing 58% of the direct funding identified in the audit. Eighty-eight percent of cancer research projects and programs were funded by a single identified funding source. 

Professor Keefe continued, “The Australian Government’s significant investment in cancer research underscores the commitment to improve cancer outcomes by developing new treatments and cures, using the latest technologies.” 

4,813 cancer research projects and programs were funded across Australia over the period of the audit (2012-2020), with a total value of $2.12 billion. 

“The findings of this new report show us that while there have been significant improvements in diagnosis, treatment and survival for a number of cancer types, there are areas where continued efforts are needed to reduce the impact of cancer in Australia,” said Professor Keefe.  

“We know that research, evaluation and the use of data help our health system to meet current and future health challenges for all Australians affected by cancer.” 

The report includes a description of investment versus burden of disease, investment across the cancer research continuum and investment in specific tumour streams. The audit also describes the extent of research collaborations, the sources of funding to cancer research in Australia, and international comparisons of funding patterns.