New trial hopes to improve care for rare cancer

Wednesday, 12 January, 2022

New trial hopes to improve care for rare cancer

A Flinders University-led project trial aims to improve care for people with neuroendocrine tumours (NETs).

The trial will establish the effectiveness of a shared-care model, shifting follow-up care for those with NETs away from acute hospital settings and maximising the involvement of local health professionals, including the patient’s GP.

“Neuroendocrine tumours are rare cancers that affect fewer than 1 in 5000 Australians, but those who live with them suffer from a lot of distressing symptoms and treatment side effects and the current health system can’t always meet these patient needs,” said Professor Raymond Chan, Director of Flinders University’s Caring Futures Institute, who will lead the trial.

“Furthermore, specialist-only care cannot always sufficiently meet all patient medical needs, and the current system does not allow for the involvement of GPs and allied health professionals.

“What our model will do is to treat people away from specialised cancer centres, in some cases reducing the need to travel, and instead shift the care to a multidisciplinary healthcare team, including the patient’s specialist team, general practitioners, practice nurses and community allied health practitioners.”

The trial, known as AUS-NET, will involve 504 people currently receiving treatment for NETs at five cancer centres of excellence in South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia.

While shared-care models have been implemented previously for more common cancer types including breast cancer, colorectal cancer, prostate cancer and lymphoma, this will be the first trial to test it on the management of rare cancers, with the care model not currently undertaken anywhere in Australia or around the world.

Professor Chan said, “With mounting pressure on our acute care and hospital system, beyond the issues we’ve seen during the pandemic, capitalising on the expertise of primary care is one key strategy for ensuring the sustainability of our health system.

“The knowledge generated from the trial will inform healthcare policy and transform the way people with neuroendocrine cancer, and in the future other rare cancers, are cared for,” Professor Chan said.

The project, Implementing a Nurse-Enabled, Shared-Care Model to Address Unmet Needs of People with Neuroendocrine Tumours: the AUS-NET trial, has been funded by the Medical Research Future Fund’s Rare Cancers, Rare Diseases and Unmet Need Grant Opportunity scheme.

Image credit: © Planet Studio

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