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12 Dec 2018

Access to cancer clinical trials for all Victorians

Patients with cancer living in regional and rural Victoria will soon have access to clinical trials, on their doorstep.

The first patients participating in a cancer clinical trial implemented through a new Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre (VCCC) Teletrials Program has begun in Albury Wodonga and Bendigo. The program provides opportunities for regional patients to participate in clinical trials without the need to travel to metropolitan centres.

Dr Craig Underhill, VCCC Regional Oncology Lead (providing representation for the regional cancer community) and the Director of Oncology at the Albury Wodonga Regional Cancer Centre is a champion of the program, “Regional cancer patients experience several disadvantages including lower survival rates, due to healthcare access differentials. The VCCC Teletrials Program aims to reduce the barriers for regional patients with cancer to access clinical trials, including travel, cost and social disruption.”

Capitalising on digital health technology

Peter Mac Haematologist, Associate Professor Kate Burbury is working with Dr Underhill and the VCCC to deliver Victoria’s first clinical teletrial. “Clinical trials are a gateway to accessing new cancer treatments,” she said. “We are very excited to be a part of this groundbreaking approach to undertake clinical trials and ensure regional Victorians gain all the opportunities available to their metro counterparts. In addition, this approach can help the health service challenge of meeting recruitment targets and the success of clinical trials, which bring new therapies to the wider community.”

Digital health is a rapidly evolving tool for regional patients’ access to health services. Combining this technology with the principles of the Australasian Tele-trials Model, developed by the Clinical Oncology Society of Australia (COSA), the VCCC Teletrials Program will implement clinical trials within a framework specifically designed for the Victorian healthcare system to benefit the community.

Teletrials to deliver benefits to regional communities

Dr Underhill said, “The VCCC Teletrials Program provides benefits for both our patients and health workforce. Decreased travel and cost will have a big impact on patients. Professional development structures and clinical trial participation will increase our workforce capability.”

Victoria’s first cancer clinical teletrial will be closely monitored to understand challenges and identify opportunities. The VCCC will continue to expand the teletrial program across Victoria to improve clinical trial access and participation for patients living in regional and rural locations.

The VCCC Teletrials Program has been developed in conjunction with the Regional Trials Network; led by VCCC Regional Oncology Leads.  

The VCCC Teletrials Program is supported by the Victorian Government.