6 ways Australians oncologists can help improve cancer care in the region

Cancer professionals including oncologists in Australia are being asked to support a new program to improve cancer care and outcomes among poorer countries the Asia-Pacific region.

Following the example of ASCO’s ‘global oncology’ taskforce, the Clinical Oncology Society of Australia (COSA) is now being proposed as the ideal group to develop an Australia-New Zealand Regional Oncology Collaboration Strategy that will extend the cancer improvement achieved in high-income countries to the low and middle income countries (LMICs) in the region.

A new paper developed by a multidisciplinary group of Australian cancer professionals has outlined various ways that oncology services in Australia can collaborate with counterparts in regional countries to improve cancer care through initiatives such as education, training, mentoring and assistance in areas such as research, journal publishing and setting up cancer registries.

Published in the Asia Pacific Journal of Oncology, the paper notes that the incidence of cancer within the Asia Pacific region is projected to increase from 8 to 12.6 million cases annually between 2018 and 2040, which will mean huge increases in demand for chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery.

Led by Dr Brooke Wilson of the Collaboration for Cancer Outcomes, University of NSW, the authors then explore ways in which Australia and New Zealand oncology clinicians can engage and collaborate with peers in neighbouring countries to improve cancer outcomes. Their proposals include:

  1. Increasing education and institutional collaborations in the region through in-country training, twinning partnerships, observerships and promoting formalised training programs in order to increase cancer care quality and capacity.
  2. Supporting the establishment and maintenance of population-based cancer registries in LMICs within the region.
  3. Increasing research capacity in LMICs through collaboration, and promoting high quality global oncology research within Australia and NZ.
  4. Engaging and training Australia and NZ clinicians in global oncology, increasing awareness of this important career path, and increasing political and health policy engagement.
  5. Increasing web-based endeavours through virtual tumour boards, web-based advocacy platforms and web-based teaching programs.
  6. Continuing to leverage funding through professional bodies, government, industry, not-for-profit organisations and local hospital funds.

“We propose the creation of an Asia-Pacific interest group within COSA to provide formalised and sustained collaboration between researchers, clinicians and stakeholders,” they wrote.

“We hope other high-income countries within the Asia-Pacific will make similar commitments to regional collaboration.”

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