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Revolutionising the way in which colorectal cancer is treated


A Victorian-first program is set to revolutionise the way in which colorectal cancer is treated.

The patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs) program has been developed by the Cabrini Monash University Department of Surgery, headed by Professor Paul McMurrick, and has been rolled out at Cabrini and The Alfred.

Dr Christine Georges, Senior Research Fellow, is leading the implementation of the digital platform that will automate the collection and analysis of outcomes from patients directly.

“Colorectal cancers are renowned for having high symptom, functional and emotional burdens,” said Dr Georges

“These burdens can persist even after eradication of the tumour, so it is critical that patients with colorectal cancer receive the best possible symptomatic, functional and psychological support throughout their treatment and beyond.”

Dr Georges said the collected information will allow clinicians and healthcare teams to develop and implement strategies to minimise unfavourable outcomes for patients.

“This system will allow us to personalise interventions for patients, including psychological support and pelvic floor physiotherapy. On a large scale, this information will serve to fully inform patients of the impact on quality of life the proposed treatment may have on them based on a significant body of evidence. Emerging research has shown that electronic PROMs for cancer patients can improve survival rates by as much as 10 per cent.”

Dr Georges said the prior research demonstrates that managing symptoms in a timely manner can result in better survival outcomes in addition to fewer visits by patients to emergency departments, fewer unplanned hospital visits and fewer unscheduled reductions in chemotherapy programmes.

“Currently, patients undergoing colorectal cancer treatment are not asked specifically about their health-related quality of life, functional and symptom outcome or of the impact of treatment on these outcomes.

“By implementing PROMs here in Victoria, we’ll be able to develop a detailed database that measures symptoms, functionality, physical, mental and social health along with quality of life of patients. The hope is this will significantly improve the experience of each patient and help improve survival outcomes .”

Next week, Prof McMurrick and Dr Georges have been invited to speak about their PROMs program to world leaders at the prestigious International Consortium of Health Outcome Measures Annual conference in Barcelona, Spain (9-11th October). At a National level, Prof McMurrick and Dr Georges have also been invited to present at the 11th Victorian Healthcare Week Exhibition in Melbourne (17-19th October). Both meeting will provide an excellent opportunity to showcase the great work being undertaken on PROMs within the Cabrini Monash University Department of Surgery.