fbpx Cancer Detection and Therapy Research Program | HMRI

Cancer Detection and Therapy Research Program

Cancer Cell Illustration
The Cancer Detection and Therapy Research Program brings together ten interrelated research groups that undertake different facets of cancer research. 

The group has excellence in: 

  • Cancer genetics (breast and bowel cancers) 
  • Isoform biology (breast and skin malignancies) 
  • Radiation physics (prostate, head and neck cancers) 
  • Neuro-oncology (brain tumours and prostate cancer) 
  • Gynaecological-oncology (female reproductive tract cancers) 
  • Molecular mechanisms (colorectal cancers and melanoma) 
  • Drug discovery and drug delivery 
  • Liquid biopsy analysis (prostate and colorectal cancers) 

Bringing these groups together will lead to new transformative approaches for the treatment of cancer. 

The program’s research has the goal of developing new treatments that effectively target cancer that has spread to secondary sites, and identifying novel biomarkers that effectively track or predict disease onset or progression. This will improve the lives of millions of patients around the world through the maximisiation of research-led innovations and their implementation in clinical practice to guide patient care. 

This program is unique in its ability to take basic research and rapidly translate salient findings to improve the health and well-being of patients diagnosed with a variety of cancers. 

The program boasts a complex suite of methodologies each group has developed that will be available to cross-pollinate and provide unique insights into disease development and progression. 

Especially important is the ability to rapidly translate key findings into the healthcare system as there will be a tight relationship with NSW Health Pathology where expertise exists in anatomical pathology and molecular medicine and radiation oncology. 

Cancer was the most prevalent disease in Australia in 2021, with 151,000 patients being diagnosed, and approximately 49,000 patients passing away (135 people per day).

Nearly all deaths from cancer are the result of acquired resistance to treatment and metastases – the development of cancer in other distant organs. 

The diagnosis of cancer is relatively similar for all regions in NSW, except for those that are remote or very remote, where there is an approximate 10% increase in all cancers. 

Despite the spectacular reversals in the mortality of most cancers and the incidence of disease declining in the population, the overall number of people being diagnosed with cancer has increased. This is due to an increasing population. 

Cancer affects people of all age groups across all sections of the community, and is generally more common in older people. Because Australia has an ageing population, an increased incidence of cancer is expected in the future. There are also sex-specific differences depending on the type of cancer and where it is located (e.g. prostate cancer in males and breast and ovarian cancer in females). 

Treatment for cancer depends on the type of cancer at the primary site (as opposed to secondary site) and is also highly dependent on the age and general health of the patient. Surgery to remove the tumor is the current standard of care for most solid cancers, followed by radiotherapy and systemic adjuvant therapy (chemotherapy, immunotherapy), to treat any remaining cancer that may be undetectable and to minimise the likeliness of recurrence.  

Metastatic cancer is treatable but is generally considered incurable. Treatment is dependent on which organ the cancer has spread to, the extent of the spread and which treatments the patient has already had. Most therapies aim to slow the growth of cancer. Other treatments for metastatic cancer are aimed at improving a patient's quality of life by relieving their symptoms through palliative care. 

Significant inroads into cancer diagnosis and treatment have been made, such as the doubling of life expectancy for pancreatic cancer patients, but enormous gaps in our knowledge with respect to disease triggers and the control of recurrence, metastasis and treatment resistance remain. 

Cancer Detection and Therapy Research Program Team
  • Program Lead/Chair: L/Prof Rodney Scott 
  • Deputy Program Lead and/or Chair: A/Prof Kelly Kiejda and A/Prof Lei Jin 

Professor Hubert Hondermarck
Research Program :
  • Cancer Detection and Therapy Research Program
Research Topics :