Aussie Filmmaker Sue Collins Is On A Mission To Eliminate Cervical Cancer

In 2021, it’s hard to imagine a world without cancer. Daily news reports seem only to remind us of new and emerging health crises sweeping the globe, while our own education system ensures we leave high school with a firm understanding of the risks of cancer and the statistics that go along with them. We might be living in uncertain times, but there is hope. Thanks to the tireless efforts of health experts and researchers, for the first time in human history the elimination of cervical cancer is possible. 

For the uninitiated, cervical cancer refers to the growth of abnormal cells in the lining of the cervix and is the fourth most common in women globally. A woman dies every two minutes from cervical cancer, equating to more than 300,000 women a year. It’s estimated that there will be 913 cases of cervical cancer diagnosed in Australia in 2021, according to the Cancer Council. But it’s important to note that the incidence of cervical cancer has decreased significantly since the National Cervical Screening Program began in 1991, followed by a national Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine program in 2007. As a result, the incidence and mortality rates related to cervical cancer here in Australia have halved, with many believing the elimination of this preventable disease to be on the horizon. 

But with 85 per cent of deaths related to cervical cancer currently occurring in low- and middle-income countries, it’s clear that if true success is to be achieved, the elimination of cervical cancer must become a global reality. Enter Sue Collins. The Aussie filmmaker is passionate about eliminating cervical cancer around the world and in the new film Conquering Cancer, Collins takes audiences on a journey around the world to meet the survivors and health experts battling with cervical cancer. From Australia to Malaysia; Zambia to the US, Collins introduces audiences to the women who have faced cervical cancer head on. These are stories of determination and heart, a triumph in the face of despair that gives you hope for a cervical cancer-free world. 

In her journey, Collins also encounters global health experts including the likes of Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus from the World Health Organisation and Professor Ian Frazer from the University of Queensland. The film explores what needs to be done to achieve the remarkable feat of eliminating cervical cancer, which could save the lives of an estimated 62 million women. As Professor Ian Frazer remarks, “Eliminating cervical cancer will be one of the greatest achievements in the history of global health, rivalling the end of polio in terms of sheer impact on humankind.” 

As highlighted in the film, so much has been done already to combat this cancer, but there remains much to be done. As the Union for International Cancer Control explains, “If we don’t act now, deaths from cervical cancer will increase by 50 per cent by 2040.” In bringing the stories of women straight form the heart to the screen, Collins inspires audiences to become active participants in eradicating cervical cancer by joining the movement. To join the campaign and read more about the ways you can support the cause, visit the official website here. 

Conquering Cancer will have a world premiere at the Cinema Novo in Melbourne on Thursday August 26, with further events to be held nationally over the following month. 

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