Cancer trial evolves beyond hospital treatment

An Australian first cancer trial has begun at Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital (RBWH) providing patients with lymphoma better support post treatment than ever before.

Metro North Hospital and Health Service Professor of Nursing Raymond Chan says this exciting pilot will see GPs and RBWH nurses work collaboratively with
patients after their hospital care to ensure better patient outcomes.

“Lymphoma cancer is a rarer form of cancer with just over 6000 Australians impacted by the disease every year. Here at RBWH, we treat around 120 lymphoma patients annually and while the survival rate is very high, we’ve found there isn’t any follow up support for these patients once they are cured of their cancer,” Professor Chan says.

“Through no fault of their own, many GPs aren’t confident caring for these patients after they receive treatment. This can be due to many reasons including the infrequency of this illness but also the lack of training around post treatment support.”

Professor Chan says often patients will have ongoing symptoms from both the cancer and subsequent chemotherapy such as fatigue, depression or enhancement of other underlying comorbidities.

“Many patients struggle to return to work and enjoy the life they once had prior to their cancer diagnosis. We want to help these patients beyond their treatment at RBWH to ensure they are given the right support when they need it rather than them suffering in silence,” Professor Chan says.

“The Evolve trial will change this with experienced nurses working closely with a patient’s GP to ensure symptoms don’t go unnoticed while also supporting their treating doctor to provide ongoing care for these patients in the community.”

The trial will include 60 patients who have recently finished their treatment for lymphoma with a third of patients to receive three follow up teleconferences with both their GP and an experienced RBWH cancer care nurse.

Half of the remaining participants will receive an information booklet on recognising and managing post treatment symptoms while the other patients will continue their care plan under their doctor which is standard practice.

“Our aim is to see if working closely with the individual patient and their GP through this nurse-led pilot will have a positive change on patient outcomes compared to what’s currently occurring which we know is very little,” Professor Chan says.

“Using the telehealth model of care, we’ll be able to reach particularly vulnerable patients such as those living in rural and remote areas and refer them to other services such as counselling or specialists for their symptoms.”

Professor Chan says Metro North has received funding for the initial pilot with the view to expand Evolve into a larger trial which would include 280 lymphoma patients being treated at RBWH.

“Ultimately, we hope to roll out this initiative to all cancer patients providing greater support to those suffering from the devastating impact this illness has both on the patient and their family,” Professor Chan says.

“We also want to empower more GPs to feel confident caring for cancer patients while reducing the impact on our busy Emergency Departments when patients come back to hospital when they could be treated in their community by their doctor.

“This is a win-win for all involved and we are excited to report back on the results by the end of the year. Oncology nurses play a vital role in the patient journey
and this is another step in the right direction for both nurse-led care and better patient outcomes.”

The Evolve trial is supported by the Leukaemia Foundation and is working in partnership with researchers from QIMR Berghofer and the University of Queensland.

2017-11-28T06:31:39+00:0028 November 2017|
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