Research Projects

The National Centre for Cancer Survivorship collaborates with research partners to fast-track ideas and creates better outcomes for cancer survivors.

 

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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.

 

 

Testimonials

"At first a felt a bit funny about talking to a lady about my problems after my cancer treatment, but my doctor is really nice and really understanding.  Plus she is an oncologist so she understands all the medical stuff that goes along with cancer treatment so I didn't have to explain things to her the way I did to my GP.  I felt like she really understood where I was coming from and gave me some good strategies to help with my issues.  And she wrote a care plan and sent a copy to my GP as well, so hopefully now when I go to see him he will feel like he is better able to treat me."

Anthony, prostate cancer survivor
"At 26 I was diagnosed with a rare form of ovarian cancer... having survived this (thanks to a great medical team), I ‘floundered’ for many years with the resulting impact of early menopause, fertility issues and general fatigue. Even worse, I felt extreme guilt that I should be able to overcome these issues easily as I survived when others didn’t, I really didn’t have the right to ever complain again. This impacted directly on my confidence, self esteem and identity. ……I am now 46, have 2 children, a partner, a career and a good life.  However, the struggle I had undergone, in pretty much isolation, has been hard.  Even friends and family who were great during treatment felt I should ‘just move on’.  The establishment of this centre is a great comfort as it shows there is now a greater awareness of cancer survivor issues to hopefully ensure better long term support for people who have had cancer."

Melinda, ovarian cancer survivor 
"I am aware of the National Centre for Cancer Survivorship and support them in their mission to find new and better ways to care for cancer survivors through research. With the high number of Australians now surviving cancer or living with ongoing cancer for many years, we need to better understand the health issues confronting this group and develop interventions to address their unique and often complex needs. As someone who has worked in the medical oncology setting for 20 years, I believe the National Centre for Cancer Survivorship is leading the way in this work."

Dr Elizabeth Hovey, MB BS FRACP MSC - Medical Oncologist, SESIAHS & UNSW, Prince of Wales Hospital
"As Director of the Kids Cancer Centre, Sydney Children’s Hospital and Professor of Paediatrics at the University of NSW, I have watched the development of the National Centre for Cancer Survivorship over the last few years. I strongly support the opportunity the Centre provides to bring together research focusing on survivors of childhood cancer with that focusing on adult survivors. In both areas it is clear that there are many unresolved challenges in understanding the health care needs of cancer survivors, and developing best practice interventions for both prevention and treatment of those problems. I believe wholeheartedly that the work that being undertaken through the Centre will benefit both kids and adult survivors people for many years to come."

Professor Glenn Marshall, AM, MB, BS, FRACP, MD Paediatric Haematologist & Oncologist, Director, Kids Cancer Centre, Sydney Children’s Hospital