The National Centre for Cancer Survivorship collaborates with research partners to fast-track ideas and creates better outcomes for cancer survivors.
The NCCS has built its activities and projects around three specific research goals that align with gaps in cancer survivorship knowledge.
The outcomes of these research activities aim to underpin provision of best practice survivorship care, both nationally and globally, as well as influence policy and practice in care of cancer survivors internationally. These research goals are outlined below.
Goal 1: Develop and test models of cancer survivorship care.
Establishing new and improved models of care for cancer survivors is a fundamental focus of the NCCS as it is a key gap in clinical practice. Specific care models for both childhood and adult cancer survivors need to be considered as they are often quite different.
The Centre is evaluating models of care for adult cancer survivors which include:
- Oncologist-led survivorship clinics;
- General practitioner-led survivorship clinics;
- Nurse-led survivorship clinics.
For survivors of childhood cancer, the Centre will continue to develop best practice guidelines for multi-disciplinary care focused through the Childhood Cancer Long-Term Follow-up Clinic at the Sydney Children’s Hospital.
Goal 2: Develop and test treatments for the major health problems of cancer survivors.
Existing evidence suggests that fatigue, neurocognitive impairment (known more commonly as ‘chemofog’), heart damage, and neurotoxicity (nerve injury) are the leading health issues which impact on the health and quality of life of cancer survivors. These issues are essentially toxicities caused by cancer treatment. At present there is very limited research evidence to guide prevention, or management, of each of these conditions.
Goal 3: Identify predictors of outcome for cancer survivors.
Some cancer survivors have complex and ongoing needs for medical, psychological and social care once their cancer treatment is complete. For other survivors, however, the cancer and its treatment represents a short-duration condition with only limited health care needs in the longer term.
Planning of health services for patients across this spectrum of outcomes would benefit from a clear understanding of which patients are likely to have more complex needs, and those who do not and are unlikely to ever to need complex care.
The NCCS believes it is leading research in this area, through studies:
- Identifying predictors of both poor and good outcomes after cancer treatment, notably including post-cancer fatigue and peripheral neuropathy
- Developing and testing clinical procedures and biological markers to predict these outcomes;
- Evaluating strategies to categorise survivors based on these predictors to guide survivorship care pathways.