The Australian Lymphoedema Education, Research and Treatment (ALERT) program at Macquarie University and leading radiation oncology provider, GenesisCare, have announced a new joint research partnership to investigate the risks and management of lymphoedema in cancer patients.
The new partnership will see GenesisCare and ALERT work collaboratively to co-design evidence-based protocols to identify and manage cancer patients at risk of lymphoedema.
Lymphoedema is the accumulation of excessive amounts of protein-rich fluid which results in the swelling of one or more regions of the body. Secondary lymphoedema can occur after treatment for cancer, when lymph nodes are either removed from the body by surgery or damaged by radiotherapy, stopping the lymph fluid from flowing freely through the lymphatic system.
At least 20 per cent of survivors from breast, gynaecological, prostate cancer and melanoma will experience secondary lymphoedema.1
Louise Koelmeyer, Director of the Australian Lymphoedema Education, Research and Treatment (ALERT) program at Macquarie University, said, “Over the last decade, we have seen a substantial increase in the number of cancer survivors which is absolutely fantastic, however as a result we are beginning to see some of the long-term side effects associated with different treatment therapies.”
“We are incredibly excited to be partnering with GenesisCare to develop evidence-based protocols which will allow us to better identify and manage cancer patients at risk of lymphoedema.”
“Early detection of subclinical lymphoedema can significantly improve patient outcomes and prevent the development of established lymphoedema, which can be mentally and physically burdensome for many patients.”
The ALERT Program is a flagship program for Macquarie University’s Faculty of Medicine, Health and Human Sciences.
As part of the research partnership, education materials will be developed for GenesisCare clinicians and for patients regarding lifestyle risk factors for lymphoedema, and the importance of exercise, skin and wound care.
Macquarie University’s Professor Roger Chung, said, “We are delighted to support the collaboration between ALERT and GenesisCare, which will deliver valuable evidence-based treatment that will improve the recovery journey for cancer survivors who are at risk of developing lymphoedema. This partnership delivers upon the mission of MQ Health, by delivering multidisciplinary patient-focused care that is underpinned by the integration of high-quality education and research.”
A designated research assistant at ALERT will work alongside the GenesisCare clinical team to create a risk screening assessment framework for early detection of lymphoedema and develop early intervention and management principles which will then be rolled out at GenesisCare centres across the country.
The initial focus of the partnership will be to investigate the incidence and management of lymphoedema in non-melanomatous widespread skin cancer.
Dr Chelsie O’Connor, Radiation Oncologist at GenesisCare Macquarie University, said, “GenesisCare is proud to be partnering with ALERT to develop a comprehensive care model and evidence-based protocols which will be rolled out across our entire network, both here in Australia and internationally.”
“This national research partnership is the first of its kind in Australia and will draw on the combined expertise of multiple clinical disciplines, including occupational therapy, physiotherapy, nursing, radiation oncology and primary care medicine.
“As a radiation oncologist, my number one priority is ensuring the best possible quality of life and treatment outcomes for my patients, and I’m delighted to be working alongside the team at ALERT to develop a new model for best practice in lymphoedema management.”
- Cancer Council 2019, After cancer treatment: lymphoedema, viewed March 2020,https://www.cancer.org.au/about-cancer/after-treatment/lymphoedema.html>
About GenesisCare in New South Wales:
GenesisCare has been providing high quality oncology services in NSW for more than 10 years. More than 200 doctors, nurses, engineers, physicists, radiation therapists and practice support team members deliver radiation therapy and medical oncology at nine locations across the state: St Vincent’s Clinic, Macquarie Hospital, Mater Hospital, Newcastle, Hurstville, Concord, Kingswood, St Leonards and Frenchs Forest. In the coming year, GenesisCare in NSW will also expand its comprehensive cancer care services, including theranostics and medical oncology, and world-class technology including an MR Linac.