News

New program to place WA at forefront of cancer care

A ground-breaking program set to revolutionise cancer care in Western Australia and place WA at the forefront of efforts to improve patient outcomes has received a significant boost thanks to an initial $750,000 grant from the Cancer Research Trust (CRT).

St John of God Subiaco Hospital Director of Breast Cancer Research Unit Professor Christobel Saunders

The program is being led by St John of God Subiaco Hospital’s Director of Breast Cancer Research Unit Professor Christobel Saunders and will be undertaken at St John of God Subiaco Hospital, St John of God Midland Public and Private Hospitals and other facilities.

Known as the Continuous Improvement in Care – Cancer Project, it is based on the emerging concept of values-based health care delivery, which encourages continuous improvement in value and structure of care.

Professor Saunders said the program is all about putting the patient first.

“Initially we will identify and measure outcomes of care that are most important to cancer patients beyond standard treatment regimes,” she said.

“For example, a patient with prostate cancer may place their concerns about impotence and incontinence as important as surviving the cancer.

“The information will be then used to embed quality improvement and research into models of care to enhance patient outcomes.”

The program will initially focus on four common cancers (eg; colorectal, breast, prostate and lung) as well as one uncommon cancer (eg; ovarian).

St John of God Subiaco Hospital, St John of God Midland Public and Private Hospitals and Royal Perth Hospitals are expected to be test sites for the program. Other facilities also may be included in the program.

Professor Saunders said a key component of the program will be engaging with clinicians and consumers to ensure the best outcomes.

“The program will also involve health services and researchers in collecting measurable data and generating and trialling new interventions and implementing findings as quickly as possible.”

CRT Executive Officer Eleonore Fuchter said Professor Saunders’ program will revolutionise cancer care in WA through the development of new, efficient and effective data collection and “interrogation systems”, which will directly improve the lives of cancer patients.  

“This is a flagship program that is cutting-edge in terms of patient care, placing patients at the centre of the cancer care continuum and will place cancer care in WA at the forefront of Australian and international best practice in improving care for cancer patients,” she said. 

Values-based health care delivery has been highly successful in improving patient outcomes in the United States and Europe over the past few years.

Professor Saunders is internationally recognised as one of Australia’s most prominent cancer surgeons. She has contributed to many clinical aspects of breast cancer research, including clinical trials of new treatments and translational research, which puts best evidence-based care into practice.

The program will also involve The University of Western Australia, Murdoch University, Curtin University and Notre Dame University

The CRT grant will be provided over a five period, with a possible extension for another four years. In addition other supporters are expected to provide about $250,000.