Medical research,

Haematology trial for lymphoma patients

Latrobe Regional Health is taking part in an international haematology clinical trial that could eliminate the need for some indolent – or slow moving- lymphoma patients to undergo chemotherapy.

The trial is looking at treating lymphoma by combining drugs that have been used successfully in other haematological conditions.

It could mean that patients would not require traditional chemotherapy, but instead receive a more targeted treatment.

LRH trial lead and haematologist Dr Amanda Ormerod said the trial was open to Gippslanders over the age of 18 whose indolent lymphoma returned post-chemotherapy.

LRH began recruiting for trial participants in July and has so far enlisted a patient who completed a screening process to make sure they were eligible.

Dr Ormerod said if successful, this trial may mean that patients with the relapsed disease could skip another course of chemo and therefore not experience the side effects.

“Patients who relapse either need another round of chemo or must travel to Melbourne for a trial, but if we have a trial here, it can reduce the physical and financial burden of travelling to the city,” Dr Omerod said.

Lymphoma is a type of cancer that begins in cells of the lymphatic system.

It is linked to exposure to radiation and certain types of chemicals, or for those with a suppressed immune system, exposure to viruses such as the Epstein-Barr virus or HIV can increase risk.

According to the Cancer Council, incidents of lymphoma in Australia have been on the rise in the past 20 years but there is no clear reason for the increase.

Dr Ormerod said LRH had been working in conjunction with The Alfred Hospital to open the trial locally.

“This way, people in Gippsland can get the same treatment they would get in Melbourne, London or New York,” she said.

“Just because you live in the country doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get the same care options you would get in the city.”

LRH General Manager of Research and Partnerships Jhodie Duncan said the opening of more clinical trials in Gippsland was not only great for patients, but beneficial for healthcare staff wanting to stay local.

“We have a brilliant team of aspiring researchers and we are providing more opportunities for our workforce to forge an interesting clinical and research career right here in Gippsland,” Dr Duncan said.

“Our goal is to become a leader in research, in a regional setting, which means more career pathways and being directly involved in the potential discovery of new and improved treatments for our community.”