Westmead’s Jacob George receives prestigious award for ‘transformational’ liver cancer work

Professor Jacob George. Picture: Cancer Council NSW

Westmead liver specialist Professor Jacob George has been named as the third recipient of an illustrious award from Cancer Council NSW for his work studying liver disease and liver cancer.

The Sally Crossing AM Award recognises outstanding achievement in cancer research, particularly research that includes consumer involvement.

“This award is recognition for the whole team at the Storr Liver Centre and Westmead Hospital’s department of gastroenterology and hepatology in their collective efforts to reduce the burden of liver cancer on the community, as well as the personal toll for patients and carers,” Prof George said.

“This is the result of a lot of translational work – combining clinical and bench research to inform a complex model that is about improving awareness and detection of viral hepatitis, linking patients to treatment, enrolling GPs in awareness campaigns, and engaging with patients to reduce their cancer risk.

Until we eliminate liver cancer, the work is not done. There are 25,000-30,000 people living with viral hepatitis in western Sydney who need optimal care.”

Liver cancer is one of the top 10 causes of cancer death in Australia, with a low survival rate and high rate of recurrence.

Prof George’s work aims to understand what drives liver disease and liver cancer in order to develop preventative strategies or treatments that cure the disease.

The achievements of the team at Westmead Hospital and the Storr Liver Centre include:

  • Development of a whole-of-system approach to liver cancer control
  • Generating new insight into the links between viral hepatitis and liver cancer
  • Testing, implementing and promoting a new model of care to prevent liver cancer through ongoing surveillance of viral hepatitis

Put in numbers, that means 1,325 patients receiving annual check-ups, which has led to the earlier detection of 106 cancers so far.

487 patients with hepatitis B are part of the nurse-led GP program, delivering optimal and convenient treatment while reducing the burden on the hospital system.

“Western Sydney and our Health District is leading the country in developing community-based integrated models of care for people with hepatitis. We’re in the top bracket for medical treatment and management,” Prof George said.

“But we haven’t won until everyone who needs treatment is receiving it.”

The Cancer Institute NSW is developing the NSW Cancer Plan for the next five years, 2022 to 2026, and has released the draft NSW Cancer Plan for public consultation. Have your say on the plan here.