30 July 2019


July is Sarcoma Awareness Month. I would like to take this brief opportunity to draw the attention of the Senate to the critical need that exists in the area of sarcoma treatment and research. A sarcoma is a rare and complex form of cancer. It can occur anywhere in the body, such as in bone and cartilage, as well as in soft tissue like fat, muscle and even blood vessels. Whilst sarcoma makes up only one per cent of all adult cancers, it has a particularly high prevalence in young people. It accounts for about 20 per cent of cancers in childhood and is one of the most common forms of cancer in children.

A sarcoma is often misdiagnosed, usually mistaken for a benign lump, a sporting injury or as just growing pains in children. Alarmingly, because of the rare nature of sarcomas, there is significantly less funding for research to help fund and find better treatment options for patients and to help find a cure one day. The research is desperately needed. There are over 80 different types of sarcoma. While the survival rate is relatively high, at 67 per cent for soft tissue sarcomas and 70 per cent for bone sarcomas, there remain limited therapy options and poor outcomes for metastatic sarcoma.

During this Sarcoma Awareness Month, the team at the Australia and New Zealand Sarcoma Association have been working hard to raise money for research and educating the community about these cancers. All across the community and on social media, patients, friends and supporters have been responding to the call to “go yellow” for sarcoma awareness. For this reason, and because of the advocacy of many friends, including one of mine, Julijana Todorovic, I’m wearing a yellow tie and I have also turned all my social media yellow today.

We might not hear about sarcoma very often in the media. It might not attract the kind of awareness and support that other cancers do. It could even be something you could, for your whole life, never hear about. But it is a challenging illness that causes significant stress and upheaval in the lives of many Australian families.

Today I call on my colleagues here in this place and in the other place, as well as members of the community, to chip in and donate a few dollars to help researchers develop better treatments. Hopefully, one day we will find a cure for sarcoma. To donate visit www.sarcoma.org.au. I thank the Senate for tonight’s opportunity to express the critical need for money and other donations for the treatment and research of sarcoma.