The Lions Cancer Institute is a project of the Lions Clubs of Western Australia and was formed in 1989. Incorporated in 1990, became affiliated with the University of Western Australia in 1994 and in 1996 in association with The Cancer Research Institute formed the Centre for Applied Cancer Studies at the University of Western Australia.
The Lions Cancer Institute laboratories were initially located in the Infectious Diseases Transportable located off Moore Street. The Institute later moved to the Medical Research Foundation building at 50 Murray Street Perth on completion of the building. Then to Park Lane, part of the original University of Western Australia campus. The Institute’s offices then relocated to Oasis lotteries House Unit 7, 37 Hampden Road Nedlands. Laboratories are housed in the department of Pharmacology on the UWA Nedlands campus.
Initial funding came through Lions Clubs and from a group named The Friends. The Friends were formed to raise funds, which was dedicated to cancer research through the Lions Cancer Institute.
In 1994 the Friends changed their name to The Cancer Research Institute with funds being directed to support the targeted therapy project being conducted by the then Professor of Surgery at UWA Prof. Bruce Gray More recently The Institute has been wholly funded by the Lions of Western Australia supported by small donations from the public sector, two (2) minor grants from the Cancer Foundation and an annual donation of around $6,500 from one corporate sponsor Olympia Diaries & Calendars.
The Lions Cancer Institute is now involved in two projects one is the Skin Cancer the core of which is our state wide Skin Screening Program. These free screenings are carried out by Institute staff, who are all volunteers, headed up by Institute Chairman PDG Colin Beauchamp and supported by members of the West Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons and The Australian Society of Dermatologists, Doctors, Dermographers, Nurses, Science Graduates and Board Members
Current status of the Screening program
The program first started with an ad-hoc screening in Muckinbuddin in 1990 where a team screened two hundred persons with approximately 5% referral rate. The screening has continued operating for 23 years and has screened over 37,000 Western Australians with an average referral rate of 27.4%.
Current volunteer staffing levels only allow us to operate 12 screenings per year 5 of these are in the metro area the rest are country based. The area covered to date runs from Geraldton in the North to Albany in the South and Esperance in the East. We receive requests for up to 30 screenings per year many of which are from locations previously visited, and on most occasions appointments available (i.e. 100 per day) screenings are filled well ahead of time. The early part of the program was targeted at developing an ‘at risk’ criteria. The criteria is continually tested and where the patient does not meet the criteria the referral rate is less than 5%.Use of the ‘at risk criteria’, if applied correctly has continually produced referral rates of 35 % plus.
In 1994 a study looking at the future of this program and the direction in which future screenings should be going, based on the number of persons referred it was decided the we had a real need to increase the number of persons screened. The current mobile screening unit operating without using the selection criteria providing ‘ad-hoc screenings’ only would achieve that best results. The unit would screen areas around a central major town with referrals being made to a central location. Based on the results from the ad-hoc screening it is anticipated that a referral rate of 5% would be achieved, a team of specialist could then be transported into that central location looking at specific areas of skin rather than a full body check.
In order to achieve this it was necessary to review the staffing requirements. It was considered that suitably trained Nurses/Dermographers, diagnosing suspect areas of skin rather than specific lesions could achieve the required results without using the at risk criteria, achieving referral rates of 5 % and referring those persons to a central point for checking by a specialist as detailed previous paragraph.
The next stage of the program was to develop a self-screening kit, two trials have been conducted where kits were delivered to every household in the postal region of the shire concerned. The referral rates were 54%+ and 57%+ for those who had self diagnosed using the card, further trials are planned.
We are now receiving requests for the kits from a specialist Australia wide and have recently shipped cards to Queensland and South Australia. The Institute also supports cancer research through University students and advanced research facilities
Mobile Screening Unit
The original mobile screening unit was launched in August 2005. The unit caravan consists of three fully equipped screening booths offering both audio and visual privacy equipped with magnified lights a small office area and an annex for reception. The unit is towed by a light truck and is completely self contained with its own power and heated water supply.
A major portion of the funding for this unit was originally obtained from a Lions Clubs International Foundation and the balance from Lions Clubs however that unit is now no longer in operation, a coach is under construction and as new van is already in use.
Funding for the new coach has been supported by a $100,000-00 grant from Lottery West and a further $75,000-00 grant from Lions Clubs International Foundation plus top up funds from major sponsor CWA Boyanup and generous donations from Lions Clubs,including a donation of $25000m from the Lions Club of Narrogin.