News in brief: Oncologist faces fitness to practise decision; Postcode lottery for cancer care requires urgent fix; Childhood cancer casts long shadow over survivors’ QOL


Oncologist faces fitness to practise decision

The Medical Practice Tribunal Service (MPTS) has ruled that leading UK oncologist Professor Justin Stebbing inappropriately over-treated 12 terminal cancer patients between 2014 and 2017.

Professor Stebbing is a Professor of Cancer Medicine and Oncology at Imperial College London, but it is his private practice in Harley Street which has been under the spotlight at the tribunal hearings.

Charges against Professor Stebbing include overstating to patients the potential benefits of chemotherapy and life expectancy, failure to get informed consent and continuing to treat patients who were not responding to therapy.

During the tribunal, which began in January last year, Professor Stebbing admitted to 30 of 36 charges relating to his failure to provide good clinical care to patients. This week, the MPTS found that three of the remaining six charges to be ‘proven’ and the other three ‘not fully proven’.

A spokesperson for the MTPS told the limbic that while a decision on the facts has been made the hearing was still ongoing. The tribunal will now make a decision on whether Professor Stebbing’s fitness to practise is impaired or not.


Postcode lottery for cancer care requires urgent fix

A person’s experience of cancer and its treatment is a “postcode lottery” with regional and rural patients faced with reduced access to optimal care, unexpected costs, and poorer outcomes.

The Health outcomes and access to health and hospital services in rural, regional and remote New South Wales Inquiry has heard people with cancer in regional NSW are less likely to have access to a nearby public hospital and therefore face extra costs such as travel and accommodation to access care.

Cancer Council NSW Chief Executive Officer Mr Jeff Mitchell told the Inquiry that people should not be forced to choose between cancer care and paying their bills.

“The out-of-pocket costs faced by people with cancer are higher for people outside metropolitan areas. So much so that one in five people with cancer in regional NSW report that they skip health appointments because of the cost.”

He said one of the solutions to the inequalities experienced by people in regional and rural NSW was to increase the reimbursements and broaden the eligibility for the Isolated Patients Travel and Accommodation Assistance Scheme (IPTAAS).


Childhood cancer casts ling shadow over survivors’ QOL

The ‘new normal’ for childhood cancer survivors is significantly lower quality of life than those of their peers who did not experience haematological or solid cancers.

An Australian and New Zealand study of 182 parents of children <16 years and more than five years from their diagnosis, found parents of cancer survivors were more likely to report their children were sad and lonely.

Parents also reported their children experienced 3.2 late effects relating to their cancer and/or treatment including dental problems (43.4%), fatigue (38.3%), problems relating to immunity (37.7%), memory and learning problems (33.7%) and emotional difficulties (30.3%).

The study found children who received treatments other than surgery (i.e., chemotherapy, radiotherapy, transplant) and who experienced more late effects were significantly associated with worse parent-reported child HRQoL.

Lower parent resilience was also associated with child sadness and loneliness.

The findings suggest psychosocial functioning of young survivors may be an area of ongoing vulnerability years after treatment completion.

“Accordingly, improving patient and parent HRQoL should be a goal of survivorship care.”

Read more in Pediatric Blood & Cancer

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