The Government of Australia has rolled out the Australian Comprehensive Cancer Network (ACCN), designed to connect cancer services across the nation and improve outcomes.  

Launched at Cancer Australia’s Innovations Showcase in Sydney, the ACCN represents a significant step forward in the country’s cancer treatment landscape. 

ACCN will serve as a collaborative platform, with Comprehensive Cancer Centres (CCCs) at its core, linking a wide array of cancer control services throughout Australia.  

These CCCs will be responsible for partnering with various health entities, such as Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services, cancer care centres, allied health services, academic institutions and regional hospitals, to provide equitable access to cancer care. 

The launch of this network is part of the broader ten-year Australian Cancer Plan, which was introduced last year, with the goal of enhancing cancer outcomes for all Australians.  

ACCN aims to bridge the gap in cancer care, particularly for groups with historically poorer health outcomes, and aligns with global efforts to improve cancer treatment for everyone. 

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Cancer Australia highlighted that participation in ACCN can be made on a voluntary basis, with members adhering to standards that promote equitable access, data collection, research, network connectivity, and workforce development.  

The network is designed to complement existing cancer care frameworks, thereby encouraging cooperation and resource optimisation. 

Despite Australia’s high cancer survival rates, disparities persist, especially in rural, remote, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, Cancer Australia noted.  

ACCN seeks to address these inequalities and has been bolstered by the Australian government’s A$750m ($500m) investment in cancer care in the 2023-24 budget.  

This funding includes significant allocations for lung cancer screening, cancer nursing, First Nations cancer outcome equity, patient support programmes, and cervical cancer elimination efforts. 

Further enhancing the government’s commitment, recent budget announcements have added A$71m to improve cancer outcomes and a substantial A$1.89bn for health and medical research transformation. 

It also includes A$1.4bn for research into tackling low-survival-rate cancers and reducing health system disparities. 

Australian Health and Aged Care Minister Butler said: “By linking services, fostering collaboration and sharing expertise, the ACCN aims to address existing disparities in cancer outcomes, particularly among rural and Indigenous populations.”