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WBHHS provides access to cutting edge cancer trials for regional patients

Local cancer patients now have access to new therapies that aim to boost survival rates and reduce recurrence of disease, thanks to Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service’s involvement in a range of ground-breaking clinical trials.

WBHHS’s participation in the trials means Wide Bay patients can access world-class, cutting-edge treatment closer to home.

Among the trials is a therapy called, cPOST, which aims to reduce the recurrence of a high-risk skin cancer. It involves patients with high-risk cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (cSCC) – the most common form of non-melanoma skin cancer – taking a new medication as part of their treatment.

On World Cancer Day today, WBHHS Chief Executive Debbie Carroll said the globally significant trials were a sizeable step in the Cancer Care Service’s commitment to enhance care options closer to home, which started with the opening of new cancer care centres in Bundaberg and Hervey Bay in 2015.

“A number of years ago, WBHHS made a strong commitment in its strategic plan to ensuring its patients would receive more care closer to home and part of that commitment was becoming a regional leader in cancer care,” Ms Carroll said.

“To achieve that goal, we developed our own cancer care strategic plan, invested in modern and expanded cancer centres, and partnered with private providers to provide more local treatment options for our communities.

“These clinical trials have been made possible through collaboration with tertiary hospitals and building relationships with trial sponsors – but most importantly, our strong drive to improve local treatment options and our demonstration of an excellent track record in regional cancer care.

“This means suitable patients now have the same access to new treatments as their fellow patients in metropolitan areas, further reducing the burden and cost associated with travelling outside the region for care.”

WBHHS Clinical Director of Oncology Dr Hayden Christie said it was exciting to be able to provide access for Wide Bay patients to clinical trials that could boost their survival rates and reduce the recurrence of different types of cancer.

“Previously, the only option for patients with high-risk cSCC was surgery followed by radiation treatment – and even after that treatment they had a significant risk of their cancer returning,” Dr Christie said.

“The cPOST trial is the first time an anti-cancer therapy drug has been offered to these patients and, if successful, it may significantly reduce the risk of the cancer recurring.

“It’s exciting to offer this to selected Wide Bay patients during the trial and we hope it will make a difference to their lives in the years to come.”

As well as the cPOST trial, the Wide Bay Cancer Care team is involved in different stages of a number of other clinical trials.

“Another trial we’re currently taking part in is EXPERT, which is a breast cancer-related trial that is assessing whether radiation treatment can be omitted in order to avoid toxicities in patients who are in the early stages of the disease,” Dr Christie said.

“Radiation treatment can cause long-term harm to patients, so it’s fantastic to offer patients with very low-risk breast cancer an option that may avoid this treatment without compromising their chance of a cure.

“Our team is also in the pending stages of several other trials including PRIMORDIUM, which is investigating a new medication program for non-metastatic prostate cancer patients – which is particularly important as this is the most common cancer in Australian males.

“Another pending trial involves testing a new agent that prolongs the survival of patients with non-curable head and neck cancer.”

Dr Christie said now that several trials were active, staff from WBHHS cancer care centres were actively assessing all new patients to determine their suitability and willingness to take part.

Last updated: 4 February 2021