News in brief: Cancer deaths predicted after treatment delays; Three strikes for triplet therapy in BRAF V600–mutated melanoma; Specialist telehealth services hit by Tristar collapse

Thursday, 2 Jun 2022

Cancer deaths predicted after treatment delays  

Australian modelling suggests that while cancer incidence and mortality rates continue to fall, the number of new cancer cases will increase by 51% and cancer deaths by 36% over the next 20-25 years.

Prostate cancer and female breast cancer will remain the most commonly diagnosed cancers, with the projected increases driven largely by population ageing and an increase in the size of the Australian population.

“This means that continued efforts to increase screening uptake and to control risk factors, including smoking exposure, obesity, physical inactivity, alcohol use, and infections, must remain public health priorities,” the study said.

The study also modelled how treatment delays due to COVID-19 disruptions might affect future outcomes for colorectal cancer patients.

“We illustrated that a 6-month health-care system disruption with a 16-week delay to cancer treatment is estimated to result in 460 additional cancer deaths and 437 deaths occurring earlier than expected during 2020–44.”

Read more in Lancet Public Health

Three strikes for triplet therapy in BRAF V600–mutated melanoma

No further clinical trials should be done with anti–PD-1 or anti–PD-L1 antibodies in combination RAFi plus MEKi in melanoma, researchers have advised after negative results were observed in three studies.

The recommendation follows the publication of results showing that addition of the anti–PD-1 antibody spartalizumab to combination dabrafenib plus trametinib in a randomised trial did not improve PFS, response rate, or 24-month OS in previously untreated patients with metastatic BRAF V600–mutated melanoma.

According to Dr Margaret Callahan of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, the latest findings were consistent with two previous randomised trials that failed to show a statistically significant improvement in response rate or 24-month OS with the triplet treatment.

Writing in the Journal of Clinical Oncology she suggested the focus should turn instead to optimising doses and schedules of combination RAFi plus MEKi and checkpoint inhibitors; developing treatment strategies to overcome resistance to these therapies, and determining how best to sequence combination RAFi plus MEKi therapy and checkpoint inhibitors.

Regional specialist telehealth services hit by Tristar collapse

The collapse of the rural bulk-billing medical centre group Tristar Medical may result in clinic closures and reduced access to specialist telehealth services for people in regional Australia, doctors have been told.

The Mildura-based group went into administration on 24 May due to financial difficulties, with administrators McGrath Nicol saying there is a question mark over which of the 30 clinics would remain open in the long term unless a potential buyer can be found.

Tristar Medical was reported to be reliant on international medical graduates (IMGs) to staff its GP bulk billing clinics, and the AMA said it had concerns about unpaid wages and continuity of employment for doctors currently working at the clinics.

“It’s not an easy process for them to up sticks and go to another job because they also need to apply to the medical board to allow them to move to another employer,” a spokesman told the Ballarat Courier.

According to its website the Tristar Medical Group also promoted specialist telehealth services via its clinics across Victoria, NSW, SA and the NT. It offered GP-mediated  telehealth consultations with cardiologists, dermatologists, endocrinologists, gastroenterologists, haematologists, neurologists, oncologists, rheumatologists and respiratory and sleep specialists, as well as surgeons and other physician specialities.

The demise of Tristar has been blamed on the freeze in Medicare rebates and reduced IMG recruitment during the pandemic.







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