Cancer can occur when some of the body’s cells grow and multiply uncontrollably. It can develop almost anywhere in the body.

As cancerous cells grow and multiply, they damage or invade surrounding tissue (groups of cells). These cells can then spread to other parts of the body, causing further damage.

Sometimes cancerous cells form a solid mass called a tumour. A cancerous (malignant) tumour can grow and spread to other parts of the body, unlike a non-cancerous (benign) tumour which does not spread. Children with cancer of the brain, stomach or kidneys will have a tumour.

Other types of cancer do not form a tumour including leukaemia (cancer of the blood) and lymphoma (cancer of the lymphatic system). The lymphatic system helps the body fight infection.

Survival rates from childhood cancers have improved but we need more research to understand how best to treat, cure and prevent them.

Who does it affect?

Who does it affect?

Our childhood cancer research

Our childhood cancer research

We are co-leading the Victorian Paediatric Cancer Consortium (VPCC). The VPCC aims to find new therapies for brain, bone and soft tissue cancers that have low survival rates, reduce severe long-term treatment side effects and hasten the translation of discoveries to hospitals.

Our researchers play a key role in the world’s largest childhood cancer study of preventable causes, the International Childhood Cancer Cohort Consortium (I4C).

A personalised medicine initiative will enable treatment of difficult cancers, maximise the chances of cure and reduce treatment harms. Every child who relapses or has poor-outcome cancer will have therapy tailored to their tumour’s genetic makeup.

The biggest cause of long-term disease and death in child cancer survivors is heart problems caused by cancer therapy. Our national trial the Australian Cardio Oncology Registry (ACOR)/Bio-bank study, plus a world-first cardio-oncology registry and cardio-oncology hubs, will identify children at risk using mini hearts grown in the lab and therefore use heart-protective medications to prevent damage.

Brain cancer is the deadliest cancer in children. Our studies aim to identify new therapies that use the immune system to fight cancer, assess if drugs before surgery in relapsed patients help medication reach tumours better and if a new treatment can shrink brain tumours in neurofibromatosis patients.

We hope better diagnosis and tailored therapy will come from our research on genomic sequencing.

Our vision

Our vision

No child should have to suffer cancer. Our vision is that one day no lives will be lost to cancer.

We are working to eliminate childhood cancer – to better detect, prevent and cure disease, improve survival rates and reduce symptoms and side effects from treatment.