News in brief: Exercise not prescribed for cancer patients; Lurbinectedin now an option for patients with SCLC; Medical board hikes registration fees

16 Sep 2021

Exercise not prescribed for cancer patients

Despite being recommended as a supportive care strategy for people with cancer, exercise is often not discussed or taken up by men with prostate cancer, Australian research shows.

A study of100 men receiving ADT  in the medical oncology and radiation oncology clinics in regional NSW found that exercise was discussed with 16% of patients and prescribed directly to 5%.

A survey of 49 patients revealed that 44% of reported participating in exercise at a high level, but many were limited by fatigue (51%), cancer/treatment-related weakness (47%) and joint stiffness (45%).

Almost all clinicians believed physiotherapists were best suited to deliver exercise programs for cancer patients and 73% believed exercise counselling should be part of supportive care. However most (73%) reported low knowledge of referral pathways to a supervised exercise programs.

The findings are published in Supportive Care in Cancer

Lurbinectedin now an option for patients with SCLC

A  new treatment option, lurbinectedin, for patients with metastatic Small Cell Lung Cancer (SCLC) has been registered with the TGA.

A selective inhibitor of oncogenic transcription, the drug marketed as Zepzelca has been approved for the treatment of patients with metastatic SCLC that has progressed on or after prior platinum-containing therapy.

According to the distributor Specialised Therapeutics, lurbinectedin is the first new therapy approved by the TGA to treat second-line SCLC in more than two decades.

Oncologist Professor Paul Mitchell from the Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness and Research Centre said the approval was a welcome new option for patients with SCLC, of whom more than two-thirds are diagnosed with extensive stage disease and fewer than 5% currently survive more than five years post diagnosis.

“With this approval, we now have another option for patients who have progressed after prior platinum-based treatments. This provides an opportunity for them to continue treatment and potentially, improve outcomes.”

Lurbinectedin is currently available in Australia via a Special Access Program and commercial supplies will commence early 2022.

Medical board hikes registration fees

Registration fees for doctors are to increase by 3% this year, while many other regulated healthcare professions have seen their fees frozen or reduced.

The Medical Board of Australia has set registration fees for 2021–2022 at $835, which is says represents an increase limited to indexation at 3%.

However, national boards for other health professions have frozen annual registration fees, with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia has frozen its registration fees for 2021–2022 at $180.

Registration fees have also been frozen by boards regulating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island health practitioners, Chinese Medicine practitioners, chiropractors, medical radiation practitioners and podiatrists. Some boards such as those regulating psychologists and paramedics have reduced registration fees by up to 10%.

Boards regulating pharmacy and physiotherapy, occupational therapists and optometrists have increased fees by 3%.

AHPRA Chief Executive Officer Martin Fletcher said the regulator recognised the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns may have had on some practitioners’ practice.

“We have put in place a registration and renewal fee payment plan for any practitioners who are experiencing financial hardship,’ he said.

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