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12 Feb 2024

PEN-TEST statewide initiative to tackle less common cancers

  • VCCC Alliance
  • Barwon Health

A new Victorian initiative launched by the VCCC Alliance promises reduce the barriers faced by people with penile and testicular cancer.

PEN-TEST is a multidisciplinary meeting that brings together experts from across Victoria to discuss penile and testicular cancer cases. The virtual meeting is hosted by Barwon Health in Geelong, and is part of a wider initiative by the VCCC Alliance to improve the outcomes of people with less common cancers, by upskilling clinicians, encouraging local care where appropriate and increasing awareness and access to research.

Reducing burden for regional patients

PEN-TEST provides an opportunity for clinicians across Victoria to submit patient cases for discussion and determine optimal treatment and research opportunities. Developed and conceptualised by Associate Professor Niall Corcoran, Research & Education Lead, Genito-urinary Cancer and urological surgeon. The framework is based on similar models that have been effective in Europe.

The project aims to support regional and rural clinicians who have patients with a less common cancer, and increase the number of patients added to registries for the purposes of future trials, or referred to existing clinical trials.

Improving outcomes for rare cancers

Testicular cancer is a less common cancer, with 6.5 instances every 100,000 people. Penile cancer is also considered a rare cancer with just 1.2 cases in from every 100,000. As a result, regional patients are often asked to travel further for treatment and expertise at hospitals that see a higher volume of cases, adding a cost and travel burden.

To date, the PEN-TEST meetings have included individuals from a range of disciplines including medical oncologists, researchers, surgeons, registrars and urologists. Referrals have already been made to the Australian Rare Cancer (ARC) portal and to an Australian and New Zealand Urogenital and Prostate cancer trial group (ANZUP) research study. Another promising outcome has been the interest and engagement from other states including Tasmania and South Australia, highlighting the importance of cross-state collaboration and use of virtual technology.

PEN-TEST is co-chaired by Mr Benjamin Thomas, urologist and Senior Research Fellow at The University of Melbourne, and Dr David Campbell, Head of Medical Oncology at Barwon Health.

“PEN-TEST is about creation of a formal pathway for clinicians and patients to access expertise, education and clinical trials for these less common cancers,” Mr Thomas said.

“It’s not so much about centralisation, but rather about ensuring care is equal across metropolitan and regional areas, and that care is best given where the patient wishes.”

It’s hoped PEN-TEST will provide a successful model which can be expanded to improve outcomes for people with other rare and less common cancers, such as head and neck.

Learn more about PEN-TEST meetings or register your interest.

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