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Toowoomba Hospital surgeon’s trial could be a life saver

31 January 2020

Dr Eric Donaldson, Dr Bav Manoharan and Dr Tom Arthur

Doctors from Toowoomba Hospital have embarked on a study which could help save the lives of people affected by bowel cancer.

Led by Dr Tom Arthur, and involving Toowoomba Hospital surgeons including Dr Eric Donaldson, Dr Scott Mansfield and Dr Bav Manoharan, the Regional Queensland Colorectal Cancer Survival Study aims to improve outcomes for people in regional and rural areas after bowel cancer diagnoses.

“A study in 2008 suggested that survival rates for patients from rural areas who were diagnosed with rectal cancer were less than those from metropolitan areas,” Dr Arthur said.

“Evidence from the subsequent decade tells us that the outcomes for colorectal cancer patients in rural and regional communities are still not as good as those of their city cousins, so we are doing this study to find out why.”

The study has been made possible through the generous support of the Toowoomba-based Pure Land Learning College. Toowoomba Hospital Foundation (THF) CEO Alison Kennedy said each year the college made a significant research donation to the THF, and from this donation $40,000 had been allocated to the study.

“The Foundation is very fortunate to have friends like Pure Land Learning College who make a significant donation each year so that our hospitals and medical staff can undertake research,” she said.

“It’s important to the Foundation and our Board that we continue to support our rural and regional patients, so it’s wonderful that we can be a part of Dr Arthur’s research project in this way.”

Dr Arthur said the team conducting the study was extremely pleased to receive the $40,000 grant.

“We were very grateful to both Pure Land Learning College and the Toowoomba Hospital Foundation,” he said.

“The funding grant has been a great help to us as it allows us to conduct a large study involving all major teaching hospitals across Queensland.

“It’s a collaborative study, run through the Queensland Surgical Trainee Research Collaboration, so we spent a lot of time in 2019 recruiting doctors from around the state to be involved.

“This means we’ll be analysing data from around 20 different facilities from throughout the state, which is vital in helping us find evidence which we hope can lead to better outcomes for rural and regional patients.”

“We’re now at the point where we are collecting data, and we’re hoping to have that data analysed and results to show by mid-2020.
“Beyond that we aim to have the results published in a peer-reviewed international publication, and also present it at national and international conferences.

“Of course the ultimate goal is to stimulate changes to address particular issues which we think will be identified in the study, which in turn will lead to better outcomes and a better chance of survival for patients in rural and regional areas.”

Last updated: 31 January 2020