Participating in life saving oncology clinical trials will soon become a more available option for cancer patients throughout Gippsland, following recommencement of the MPCCC’s Monash-Gippsland tele-trials project this month.

With continued funding from the Victorian Government, the project will move into its next phase which involves establishing dedicated tele-trial clinics, to match patients in Gippsland with oncology clinical trials offered by Monash Health.

A stakeholder and community education program, aimed at improving the understanding of the importance of clinical trials in cancer care, will complement the new tele-trials clinics.

Gippsland’s primary oncology service provider, Latrobe Regional Hospital (LRH), first started running cancer clinical trials in 2019, supported by a mentoring partnership with experienced clinical trials specialists at Monash Health.

“Three Chief Investigator initiated trials were selected to start with, giving LRH a chance to gain experience in managing trials and recruiting patients”, said Prof Eva Segelov, Head of Oncology at Monash Health.

“Just as we were gaining momentum, COVID19 arrived, and caused the project to be suspended”, said Prof Segelov.

In the interim twelve months, LRH has made substantial progress in building their capability and competency in running clinical trials, screening and recruiting several eligible patients for their registered on-site trials.

“Continuing the partnership with Monash Health will open up new treatment options for patients in Gippsland that are not currently available, and will ultimately improve their care”, said Dr Tricia Wright, newly appointed Director of Cancer Services at LRH.

Improvements in the acceptability of telehealth together with federal funding awarded to support regional cancer tele-trials projects, such as TrialHub and ReVitalise, have further nurtured the conditions for cross-site collaborations and will accelerate rural and regional cancer patients’ access to cancer trials.