Complementary therapy cancer research

Chris O’Brien Lifehouse supports a thriving complementary therapy cancer research programme, enabling patients to access new treatments aimed at supporting the best outcomes.

The integrative medicine, complementary therapy cancer research group have a developed a pilot study to assess the feasibility of a multimodal intervention as well as identifying supportive care needs of the growing group of cancer patients living with metastatic melanoma and receiving cancer immunotherapy treatments. These patients are now living for years with their metastatic melanoma, but have significant morbidity from the autoimmune related side effects of immunotherapy. The study will provide an opportunity to develop a supportive care program tailored to the needs of those patients living with immunotherapy controlled cancer and gain a greater understanding of the interventions most suited to maintain and improve their well-being. We hypothesise it is of potential benefit to support and improve the wellbeing of the advanced melanoma patients receiving pembrolizumab. This study has been funded by MSD and will enroll 60 patients over the next 2 years.

A review of current services conducted through meetings with health professionals at Sydney Catalyst member organisations has revealed that a significant gap exists across NSW in terms of the delivery of coordinated prehabilitation (pre-surgery) or rehabilitation (post-surgery) for lung cancer patients. A rehabilitation program post-surgery is not consistently applied to patients undergoing surgery at major tertiary centres or for those returning to rural locations. While all sites have resources and provide quality services, there is currently no consistent, ongoing follow-up of patients post-surgery to monitor physical rehabilitation. There is no formalised networking across sites currently for post-surgical care or professional development amongst the healthcare professionals providing services. Existing pulmonary rehabilitation programs tend to focus on chronic obstructive airways disease and other chronic conditions, rather than lung cancer and surgical follow-up.

Pulmonary rehabilitation is a minimally invasive multidisciplinary therapeutic intervention that has demonstrated positive outcomes for lung cancer patients in various settings. Mounting evidence supports preparing newly diagnosed cancer patients and optimising their health before starting intense treatments such as surgery or chemotherapy. There are few if any examples of harnessing eHealth technologies in a consistent way to improve preparation for surgery or rehabilitation for surgery. This study extends existing Sydney Catalyst research projects in lung cancer care and aims to evaluate the feasibility of an integrated model of care for prehabilitation/rehabilitation of patients undergoing surgery for NSCLC, commencing with a phase I study of the physical exercise component, utilising blended delivery including telehealth and face-to-face methods.

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