A new centre of research excellence for lymphoma will allow a greater number of blood cancer patients in Western Australia to access vital clinical trials for new therapies.
The WA Lymphoma Centre of Research Excellence, a collaboration between The University of Western Australia, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, Hollywood Private Hospital, Linear Clinical Research, Lymphoma Australia and the Rachael Doherty Foundation, and supported by the Snowdome Foundation, aims to provide patients suffering from lymphoma (a type of blood cancer) with greater opportunity to participate in important clinical trials here in WA.
Blood cancer is the third leading cause of cancer deaths in Australia with more than 1000 West Australians diagnosed each year. Although WA has cutting-edge blood cancer therapies available, there are relatively few clinical trials. This means patients may have to travel interstate to access innovative therapies if these treatments are unsuccessful. This can be costly (in excess of $100,000), and means seriously ill patients are put under constant stress from travel and being away from family.
Perth-born blood cancer specialist Dr Chan Cheah, a consultant haematologist, is leading the project.
“West Australians with lymphoma and other blood cancers have comparatively limited access to clinical trials,” Dr Cheah said.
“During my training at Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre (Melbourne) and MD Anderson Cancer Center (Houston, Texas) I saw how world class centres of cancer research operated and saw ways we could improve things in Perth.”
“I returned home with a goal of establishing a world class centre of excellence to help WA patients with lymphoma and other blood cancers.”
The project is already underway, with the three partner sites – Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, Linear Clinical Research and Hollywood Private Hospital increasing the number of lymphoma trials available to patients.
“The Centre will benefit the 600 West Australians who are diagnosed with lymphoma each year, and the thousands more living with the disease by giving them increased access to new drugs, sometimes years before they would be available as standard of care,” Dr Cheah said.
“Clinical trials allow innovative therapies to be made available sooner right here in WA, and by connecting our local resources with national and international cancer centres, WA patients will have access to the best treatments available.”
Ms Jane Frame, the first patient to have been treated in the Centre said, “The Centre will improve the opportunity for other West Australians living with blood cancers to access the treatments locally, which is an amazing benefit.”
The importance of this new Centre to WA was recognised by those who attended a gala dinner hosted by property developer Adrian and Michela Fini where $285,000 was raised for the Centre.
The Snowdome Foundation was formed in 2010 with a mission to accelerate next-generation treatments for Australian blood cancer (myeloma, lymphoma and leukaemia) patients to help them live longer, better lives. It aims to fast-track access to new blood cancer treatments by channelling government and private philanthropic investments into ground breaking research, clinical trials, and personalised therapies. There is no other Australian organisation supporting the treatment of blood cancers in this way.
More information can be found at www.bloodcancerwa.org.au
Dr Chan Cheah, Pathology and Laboratory Medicine