Gastro-intestinal (GI) cancer is a broad term used to encompass cancers of the digestive system: the oesophagus, stomach, liver, gallbladder, bile ducts, pancreas and bowel. It is collectively the most common form of cancer in New Zealand. Each year nearly 5,000 New Zealanders are diagnosed with a GI cancer; half of these people will die within five years of diagnosis. Yet despite being the most prevalent form of cancer, it is under-represented in funding and awareness.
To improve the survival rates of GI cancer, we must provide funding for clinical research. Clinical trials are the final link in the chain of medical research that take discoveries made in the laboratory and advance them into treatments that can improve survival rates and the quality of life for patients. By participating in clinical trials, patients gain the benefits of early access to leading-edge treatments, and their specialists have the opportunity to provide research-driven cancer care – which is care of the highest quality.
New Zealand patients and their specialists have had limited access to the many clinical trials that have shaped GI cancer treatment globally. The available funds for these ground-breaking clinical studies are insufficient and without better financial support, New Zealanders will miss out on the progress that is ongoing. GICI seeks to fill this funding gap to ensure that patients in New Zealand have access to the best possible treatments.