A Peter Mac clinical trial has opened in Swan Hill for the first time, showing living in regional Victoria need not be a barrier to accessing the very latest in cancer care.

The trial - staged with support from Swan Hill District Health and Bendigo Health - involves DNA testing of patients to identify those at risk of an adverse reaction to chemotherapy. This allows chemo doses to be tailored for these patients.

The trial is led by Peter Mac’s Professor Michael Michael and Clinical Pharmacist Sarah Glewis. Patients provide a cheek swab and the DNA test looks for gene variants known to influence their tolerability to common chemotherapy agents.

“Patients who may experience severe adverse reactions to chemotherapy may have altered genes which prevent the breakdown of commonly used chemotherapy agents,” Professor Michael said.

“Genetic testing can identify these at-risk patients, and telehealth is now making it possible to offer personalised cancer care like this to patients no matter where they live.”

The trial is open to patients with breast, bladder, bowel, cervical, head and neck, oesophageal, pancreatic and stomach cancers.

Ms Glewis said the trial may also help discover new gene variants that also affect chemotherapy risk.

“This testing is already being offered at Peter Mac in Melbourne and we’re delighted to partner with Swan Hill District Health - with the support of Bendigo Health - to expand this trial to patients in regional Victoria,” she said.

Swan Hill District Health Chief Executive Officer Peter Abraham said clinical trials typically meant travel and extended stays away from home for the region’s residents.

“We are fortunate that community members of the local Swan Hill region will be able benefit from such cutting-edge medical advancements in cancer care through clinical trial opportunities such as this one,” Mr Abraham said.

The trial is also open to patients treated at Bendigo Hospital (via Bendigo Health) and Albury (Border Medical Oncology).

For detail see the “Pharmacogenomics guided dosing of anticancer therapies for patients with cancer” trial on the ANZ clinical trials registry.

Interested patients should ask their oncologist about the trial, or for general queries call Ms Glewis on 03 8559 5628.

For more information contact the Peter Mac Communications team on 0417 123 048.

About Peter Mac

Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre is a world-leading cancer research, education and treatment centre and Australia’s only public health service solely dedicated to caring for people affected by cancer.