Cancer clinical trials research – saving lives and improving outcomes

Pat's story

Cancer clinical trials research – saving lives and improving outcomes

There aren’t many of us who haven’t been touched by cancer in some way. If you haven’t been directly affected, it’s likely a family member or a friend has at some stage of their lives. Fortunately for people in our region living with cancer, they need not travel far from home for the best treatment and care.

Geelong grandfather Pat Hancocks is one local patient who is receiving world-class treatment close to home, while being part of a ground-breaking clinical trial.

Just over two years ago, Pat was at home with his wife Thelma when she noticed a small spot that looked like a blood blister on his neck. After years of working in an outdoor job in Geelong, Pat knew immediately what it was - cancer.

Pat made an appointment with his GP and after a series of tests it was confirmed Pat had melanoma.

He underwent surgery and was referred to Dr Adam Broad at the Andrew Love Cancer Centre, where the surgery was followed by an intensive course of radiation.

After a number of tests, Pat was advised that he qualified for a clinical trial being conducted at the Andrew Love Cancer Centre. The trial is centred around immunotherapy, an exciting new direction for cancer treatment worldwide.

Immunotherapy is a treatment that uses certain parts of a person's own immune system to fight cancer.

Every three weeks, Pat receives an injection of an inactivated virus into his tumour and is then given immune therapy intravenously the same day to fight the virus within the tumour. This treatment has seen it diminish and Pat is responding well.

“In 64 years, I had never been to hospital. I was fit as a fiddle. But since my diagnosis and being forced into this world of medical research, it’s just amazing how well I am being cared for.

“I’m feeling good and I am looking forward to many more years with my kids and grandkids.”

Please donate today to Barwon Health’s Andrew Love Cancer Centre to help us continue our work in the clinical trials area and our excellence in patient care and help to ensure people in our community continue to have access to world class clinical trials and research.

Barwon Health - Investing in innovation and research 

Medical research has made a profound difference to our lives. Over the past 20 years, we have seen the survival rates of many common cancers increase by up to 30 per cent and we are fortunate to live in an age where all sorts of medical breakthroughs regularly occur. Of course, this would not be possible without a commitment and an investment into research.

Barwon Health has been a research-based health service for more than 50 years. With a clear focus on population health and chronic disease, Barwon Health’s medical research saves lives and focuses on research excellence to deliver sustainable healthcare that benefits the Barwon region and beyond.

We are recognised for excellence in medical research and our research is world-renowned with a history of significant breakthroughs, attracting the finest minds to Barwon Health.

Barwon Health’s research in cancer treatment and oncology is also ground-breaking. In addition to fighting the disease, our staff are producing medicines and conducting clinical trials that will make a big difference to cancer survival rates, not only in our region but globally.

An important unit within the Andrew Love Cancer Centre is our Haematology and Oncology Trials Team, which is responsible for managing the clinical trials within which many of our patients participate.

This exciting work enables cancer researchers and drug manufacturers to develop new drugs and treatments for cancer patients in Australia and across the world.

Clinical trials research in Geelong gives local patients access to the newest treatments before they become publicly available, as well as the opportunity to play an active role in their own healthcare and gain a better understanding of their disease or condition.

The Oncology Pharmacy and its staff play a vital part in this important research, and the new pharmacy, as part of ProjectLove, will enable patients in our region to participate in even more clinical trials with a larger, more efficient pharmacy.

Clinical trials have been conducted within the Andrew Love Cancer Centre since 1997 and are used to help produce more effective cancer treatments. Trials commonly involve new cancer medicines or examine new approaches to chemotherapy, surgery or radiotherapy. In 2015 alone 302 patients were recruited to oncology/haematology clinical trials.

The trials provide coverage for a wide range of malignant and haematological conditions, and are chosen to address important issues relevant to our patients. All trials accepted at the Andrew Love Cancer Centre are both scientifically and ethically sound.

Researchers must follow strict guidelines to ensure studies are as safe as possible for everyone involved, and all studies must be approved by specially appointed research and ethics committees.

As a result of the investment in clinical cancer research, more people are surviving cancer than ever before. Today, two out of three people live at least five years after a cancer diagnosis (up from roughly one out of two in the 1970s).

The death rate has dropped 18 per cent since the early 1990s, reversing decades of increases. However, there is still so much work to be done. Together, we can make a difference to the health care of our community and help save lives.