By the 1960s each state of Australia had established a cancer society, and in 1961 the Australian Cancer Society (ACS, now Cancer Council Australia) was also established. Around this time it was recognised by some leading head and neck and breast cancer specialists that a multidisciplinary approach to treating cancer was essential. By 1964 some Sydney and Melbourne cancer clinics were using a multidisciplinary approach to treat cancer within their own centre, but it was recognised that more needed be done on a national level.
At the Annual Scientific Meetings (ASM) of 1968 and 1969 (facilitated by the ACS) discussions, both formal and informal, occurred about the establishment of a society with the aim of encouraging widespread communication between those working on the same body location and on different part of the body. Discussion also centered around how the ACS could play a role.
The 1970 ASM saw the ACS form a division of clinical oncology. The founding groups were the Head and Neck group and the Breast group. Each group paid a $5 annual levy.
At the 1971 ASM, held in Port Moresby, the name Clinical Oncological Society of Australia (COSA) was adopted and a draft constitution was prepared on the model of the American Society of Clinical Oncology. On 1 December 1971 COSA was formed.
At the first annual general meeting of COSA in November 1972 a new constitution was adopted and it was agreed that COSA was to ‘advance the clinical investigation and management of cancer”. The Society’s original objectives were to exchange information about cancer, further the training of all people in research and in care of patients, and to encourage communication between all disciplines concerned with cancer. COSA has 107 members in the Head and Neck group and 82 in the Breast group. There were members in all Australian states (except Tasmania) and in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea.
In 1974 Cancer Forum was first published. It remains one of the worlds few issue-designated cancer review journals, providing the clinical oncological and cancer research communities with multiple in-depth reviews on key aspects of cancer.
By 1982 there were 12 COSA groups, including Medical Oncology, Cancer Nurses, Cancer Research and Paediatric Oncology, representing a membership of 1100.
Within ten years COSA had become recognised as the major body representing cancer research and treatment. COSA was represented on the Council of the ACS, the working party for training medical oncologists run by the Royal Australasian College of Physicians, the National Health and Medical Research Council Drug Evaluation Committee, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee and the editorial board of the Australian Prescriber. COSA also played a vital role in the development of clinical trials, and in 1982 the establishment of the Cancer Trials Data Centre.
In 2005, COSA & the Cancer Cooperative Trials Groups successfully applied for an Enabling Grant from the National Health & Medical Research Council. They were awarded $1.84 million over five years with the aim to enhance the capacity of all member Cancer Cooperative Trials Groups of COSA to conduct high quality clinical research by developing and providing fundamental resources. Although funding has now ended, enabling project work still continues.
Significant concern from COSA members has also seen the development of seven interest groups. In 2006 the Cancer Cancer Coordination interest group was formed, followed by Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer and Complementary and Integrative Therapies in 2007. In 2008 Geriatrics Oncology, Biobanking and Neuroendocrine Tumours (NETs) interest groups were formed. The Developing Nations interest group formed in 2009.
In 2009, COSA's Regional and Rural group released a report of a national workshop convened by Australia’s peak non-government clinical and community-based cancer organisations. Titled "A way forward for regional cancer centres – independent expert recommendations", the report outlined how the Australian Government’s $560 million budget commitment could best reduce geographical inequities in cancer outcomes. This regional and rural services mapping report became the basis for advocacy and government action on regional cancer centres.
Last updated: 04/04/13 10:57:52
Since 1970 COSA has greatly increased its national profile and its role in leading and/or advocating for action to address concerns of people affected by cancer and professionals working in cancer control to improve cancer outcomes. Members are drawn from the many disciplines in medicine engaged in cancer treatment and from associated research, patient care and support areas. They come from universities, private practice, government and private laboratories and other health services. Its membership now exceeds 1300 professionals from across Australia who are involved in: