Clinical trials to improve life during and after cancer

Tuesday 25 May, 2021

We know that you, as a kind-hearted supporter of Cancer Council, want to see more people live well during and after cancer treatment.

Thanks to generosity like yours, $1.5 million of new funding into clinical trials was announced on International Clinical Trials Day – 20 May 2021.

The funding will be allocated to Victorian researchers to develop trials that aim to improve the quality of life of people diagnosed with cancer – and will also work to provide equitable access to trials for all Victorian cancer patients.

Clinical trials take laboratory research results and translate them to a clinical setting – they are medical research studies involving people.

Many people with cancer are now living longer, with a better quality of life, due to the findings and treatments made available through clinical trials.

They can offer patients access to therapies and support interventions that may not be otherwise available to them, and also offer holistic care, as each patient’s health is carefully checked and monitored throughout the study.

Cancer Council Victoria’s Cancer Trials Management Scheme and the Victorian Government through the Victorian Cancer Agency – will fund three new projects.

These projects will aim to address unmet needs and build on Victoria’s ability to deliver cancer clinical trials that improve care for people living with or beyond a cancer diagnosis.

Selected projects will be offered funding for a maximum of three years.

Danielle Spence, Head of Strategy & Support at Cancer Council Victoria, said Cancer Council wanted to help address a gap in clinical trials research funding.

“Research into supportive and survivorship care is needed to find new ways to improve the quality of life for patients and survivors, and help us better understand which interventions should be incorporated into standard practice, so all patients can benefit from them.”

For many cancer patients, the impact of harsh cancer therapies can be long-lasting and have devastating impacts.

“The effects of treatment such as pain, sleep disorders, nausea, fatigue, depression and other health problems can be debilitating and prevent patients being well enough to undergo treatment,” said Danielle.

With less than 6% of people newly diagnosed with cancer participating in cancer clinical trials each year, Cancer Council Victoria is committed to raising awareness of and encouraging participation in clinical trials. This statistic is even lower for people living in rural and regional areas.

Warren’s story

Warren and his partner, Klarissa, towards the end of his treatment.

Warren was very fit and healthy – a shire ranger at the Mornington Peninsula Shire for 25 years and an ultra-marathon runner.

That’s why, when Warren was diagnosed with Diffuse Large B-cell Lymphoma (DLBCL) in 2019 at 58 years of age, it came as a complete shock.

Unfortunately, Warren didn’t show any symptoms for a long time, so his cancer diagnosis was at stage four by the time it was discovered.

He didn’t respond to standard treatment and so participated in several clinical trials.

“Warren always put his hand up for any extra tests,” his partner Klarissa said. “His theory was that even though none of it worked for him, we would learn something from it to benefit people in the future.”

Warren was given more time with his family through clinical trials. But sadly, he passed away from cancer in November 2020 after courageously facing multiple rounds of treatment.

“I can’t fault them, because it gave us longer than we would have had. If we hadn’t done it, he would have been gone well before then. We would have had six months instead of 15.”

Looking back at their experience, Klarissa would recommend clinical trials to others considering taking part.

“I think you should embrace clinical trials,” she said. “If someone’s offering you a lifeline and the patient wants to have a go, then have a go and if it doesn’t work, we’ve still learnt something from it.”

Applications for Cancer Council Victoria’s Cancer Trials Management Scheme competitive grant round opened on 20 May 2021 and will close on 15 July 2021.

In addition to funding research, Cancer Council Victoria also manages the Victorian Cancer Trials Link. It allows patients to search for clinical trials and facilitates access to trials for cancer patients and clinicians in Victoria.

Search for a cancer clinical trial in your area.

Visit the website and download the app