Health Services,

Better care for Gippsland neuroendocrine tumour patients

Latrobe Regional Health has hit a milestone in a collaborative partnership with Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre to oversee patients with rare and complex neuroendocrine tumours (NETs).

LRH had previously been referring NET patients to the Peter Mac neuroendocrine unit in Melbourne, but now these patients can be seen locally.

The Peter Mac neuroendocrine unit is the largest in Australia and is a certified European Neuroendocrine Tumour Society Centre of Excellence – the first established outside of Europe.

Peter Mac Neuroendocrine Unit Co-Chair Professor Michael Michael held his inaugural clinic at LRH this month.

His visit consolidated a three-year project to formalise a framework between the two hospitals and train local nurses.

Prof Michael plans on visiting LRH every year to co-share physicians, treatment guidelines, and hold monthly meetings to discuss NET patients with the Peter Mac multi-disciplinary specialists.

LRH medical oncologist Dr Sachin Joshi said the partnership means Gippsland patients can access the same standards of care as at a major metro hospital like Peter Mac.

“This can give patients confidence that their care is being streamlined and linked between the two hospitals with no fragmented information,” Dr Joshi said.

“It means we can give quality of care closer to home while also up-skilling our capabilities and linking patients to the centre of excellence for complex treatments as the need arises.”

The neuroendocrine system is a network of glands and nerve cells that make hormones and release them into the bloodstream to help control body functions such as digesting food.

Neuroendocrine tumours are rare and form mainly in the gastro-intestinal tract, including large and small bowel, pancreas and lungs.

Prof Michael said diagnosis was often delayed and detected at advanced stage four of the disease.

But he said survival rates were good depending on their growth rate, disease extent and how patients responded to treatment.

He said Peter Mac was planning to expand its neuroendocrine partnership to other regional hospitals.

“We give our opinion for the best options for patients to be managed locally at LRH, then they can be sent to Peter Mac if they can’t access specialised treatment at LRH,” Prof Michael said.