Ensuring equity of access to cancer care for patients in regions with the poorest outcomes.
Patients with cancer living in regional and rural Victoria experience several disadvantages including a lower survival rate (65 per cent compared to 69 per cent in metro areas) and barriers to clinical trial access (time, cost and social disruption), compared to patients living in Melbourne.
According to recent data, just 23 per cent of patients on a clinical trial were living in regional Victoria. Boosting participation in rural and regional cancer clinical trials will ultimately help optimise cancer care in the regions long-term, as well as increase diversity of participation, enable greater equity, and ensure the expansion of clinical trial capacity in Victoria.
“Living with a rare cancer in a regional town has certainly had its challenges. Ensuring equitable access to specialist knowledge, increasing access to clinical trials with a virtual hub will support better outcomes for not only rare cancer patients, but all cancer patients in rural and regional areas.”
- Sharan Ermel, Consumer Representative
Upskilling and increasing workforce capacity
Clinical trial units are complex, relatively autonomous business entities embedded in hospitals or private units with little access to professional development opportunities.
Executive directors and managers from regional centres have been participating in a VCCC Alliance-run business development program to improve financial management and create operational efficiencies. Increasing workforce capacity has included the introduction of internships, creating a career path for science students, and access to remote learning such as VCCC expert lecture webinars.
Breaking down metro vs regional barriers
Developing relationships and effective systems between metropolitan and regional sites and increasing clinical trial participation across regional Victoria has potential to increase survival rates, and boost workforce capability, opportunities and development.
The VCCC Alliance’s Regional Oncology Leads, the Teletrials Program and education opportunities are specifically aimed to increase much needed resources, as well as provide access to clinical trials to people living in regional Victoria.
Representatives of the regional cancer community, including medical clinicians, allied health staff, and patients are actively encouraged to contribute to the VCCC Alliance’s programs and activities.