Discover the latest progress in cancer research, education and clinical care delivered by the MPCCC.

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April 9, 2024

Bridging the Gap in Cancer Care

'Closing the care gap’ is an important theme for World Cancer Day on Sunday 4 February. 

This mission resonates with the Monash Partners Comprehensive Cancer Consortium (MPCCC), which is helping to rectify the uneven distribution of resources in state-of-the-art cancer care across Victoria.

Professor Mark Shackleton, Co-Director Monash Partners Comprehensive Cancer Consortium (MPCCC), Director of Oncology at Alfred Health and Professor of Oncology in the Department of Medicine, Monash University explained that although all Victorian tax payers contribute to supporting health care, access to modern cancer care in 2017 was contingent upon one's postcode.

"This stark reality ignited the MPCCC's mission to tackle inequitable access to precision oncology, which involves sequencing a patient's cancer tissue to identify genetic changes predicting responses to new treatments and facilitating participation in clinical trials," Professor Shackleton said.

With pilot funding from the State Government, MPCCC launched a ground-breaking Precision Cancer Program, which supported cancer specialists in Melbourne's southern and eastern regions, enabling them and their patients to access cutting-edge cancer sequencing technologies. The success of the first phase garnered second-stage funding to further integrate the program with five major hospitals, including Monash Health, Eastern Health, Peninsula Health, Cabrini, and Alfred Health, and engage with several others, including regional hospitals. Almost 300 patients have since accessed genetic sequencing of their cancers, and expert interpretation of results, which they would not have received without the MPCCC’s program.  Many were recommended for new treatments, and others joined clinical trials.

"What sets the MPCCC’s Precision Cancer Program apart is its commitment to positively impact patient care and cultivate the next generation of cancer care experts through the support of a team of five oncology fellows and two pathology fellows. This project has been an outstanding success. It has enabled hundreds of patients to access genetic testing for their cancers, linking the results to therapies that they would not otherwise have received. It is also nurturing our expert cancer workforce of the future," Prof Shakleton said.

As we approach World Cancer Day, the MPCCC's Precision Cancer Program is a testament to the transformative power of targeted interventions in closing health care gaps. With concerted efforts and strategic investments that support the ambitions for equity of the recently released Australian Cancer Plan, we can pave the way for a future where access to cutting-edge cancer care is not determined by one's postal code, but by the fundamental right in this country to healthcare for all.