Cancer patients will have greater access to potentially life-saving therapies thanks to an improved partnership between South West Healthcare (SWH) and Cancer Trials Australia (CTA).
The partnership will enable local cancer patients access to clinical trials and treatment they may not have otherwise had access to.
Since 2003 CTA has supported the administration of over 1,300 oncology clinical trials, which have recruited in excess of 8,000 cancer patients.
A new trial into small cell lung cancer will be the first to roll out in Warrnambool on Monday under the new model and is part of a larger international study.
The SWH oncology clinical trials unit joined the CTA network in June 2016 but a new agreement means it will provide administrative support.
South West Regional Cancer Centre medical oncologist Ian Collins said it was a positive for the region and having CTA on board streamlined the administration process, allowing doctors to concentrate on their jobs.
“From a cancer point of view clinical trials are part of our standard of care, so to be able to offer patients trials where they’re getting new treatments or access to treatments they mightn’t get otherwise is a very important part,” Dr Collins said.
“Then there’s the patients going on trials to help improve medical knowledge in general and help future patients. There’s lots of benefits from different trials."
He said CTA were experts in the field due to the sheer number of trials they worked with.
“It’s expanded the capability, as opposed to having specific trials that we’ve targeted,” Dr Collins said.
There are 26 CTA members across four Australian states.
Dr Collins said CTA gave the cancer centre a larger profile when trial companies were looking for areas to conduct their studies.
“SWH can’t compete on that scale,” Dr Collins said.
“That’s one of the reasons for doing the regional trials network is to improve the visibility of the trials across Victoria and experience and contacts in that area to get more trials down here.”
Cancer Trials Australia chief executive Kurt Lackovic said the trials would reduce patients need to travel to access trials, and would benefit patients, families and staff members.
“The goal is for Australian patients to benefit sooner from novel, life-saving therapies,” he said. “This should be irrespective of where they choose to live.”
Dr Lackovic said there was evidence that patients at hospitals where clinical trials were conducted benefited because they attracted a higher standard of clinicians and nursing to the hospitals. “The whole bar is raised,” he said.
SWH education, research and workforce development manager Barbara Moll said they were always looking for new trials.
“Because we’ve got that network that is advocating in a sense for us, the radar is open and looking for trials that are suitable and would meet the needs of local patients.
Ms Moll said trials were “extremely robustly managed”.
“There are very careful and clear inclusion and exclusion criteria,” she said.
“The whole process of managing it to make sure patients are safe and cared for, that any incidents are managed really well and they’re monitored for years after the trial is completed is a really key component of it.
“To be able to do that you need really strong administration.”
For more information about CTA go to www.cancertrialsaustralia.com
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