News in Brief: Who’s who on the new-look MOGA executive; Big drop in blood pathology tests; Cancer clinical trial participation feedback sought

2 Sep 2021

Who’s who on the new-look MOGA executive

With Associate Professor Prunella Blinman stepping down as MOGA Chair last week following the completion of a successful two year term new MOGA Chair, Dr Deme Karikios, steps up to lead a new-look executive committee.

A/Professor Blinman will remain on the Executive in the position of past previous Chair while newly elected Executive member Associate Professor Melissa Eastgate, Deputy Director of Medical Oncology at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, will become the new MOGA Deputy Chair. 

Associate Professor Phil Parente, MOGA Treasurer and Dr Florian Honeyball, Workforce Committee Chair, have both successfully renominated and have joined continuing Executive members Professor Desmond Yip and Dr Adrian Lee, Award Committee Chair.

Two newly elected members were also announced. Joining as Executive members is Dr Anna Mislang, consultant medical oncologist at Flinders Centre for Innovation in Cancer, who specialises in Geriatric Oncology; and medical oncologist Associate Professor Timothy Clay from Western Australia, with specialty interests of lung, breast and genitourinary cancers.

And taking over from Dr Karikios as Chair of the Oncology Drugs Working Group is Dr Christopher Steer, president of the Private Cancer Physicians of Australia (PCPA), who has served on many national and international research and advisory boards.

Meanwhile MOGA have praised the services of Professor Chris Karapetis, Previous Chairman and ACORD Deputy Convenor, Professor Joanna Dewar, ACORD Representative and Dr Peter Manders who have ended their current terms of appointment.

Dr Manders will now lead the Association’s 2022 Annual Scientific Meeting following his appointment as the event’s co-convenor.

Finally Dr Tharani Krishnan will step down from her role as the National Trainee Representative following a successful two years’ service. Dr Rhiannon Mellor has been elected to the position and her first term of office. 

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Big drop in blood pathology tests during pandemic

COVID-19 restrictions have had a significant impact on the use of pathology testing with researchers in South Australia reporting a drop in the number of haematology tests requested during the state’s first lockdown compared to earlier in the year.

According to the analysis of records from SA Pathology falling test rates were seen across community and ED settings – the ratio of number of pathology tests pre-lockdown and post-lockdown vs. baseline period decreased from 1.02 to 0.53 respectively.

The decrease was most pronounced for haematology, general chemistry and endocrinology tests, whereas the exception was microbiology molecular tests, which includes virology PCR testing, which were three times higher during the lock down period compared to earlier in the year.

The number of troponin tests, as an indicator of urgent care, decreased in the lockdown period compared to the baseline period and researchers said an inverse association between patient age and numbers of troponin tests in lockdown may suggest that possible avoidance behaviour was more pronounced in older age groups who are at increased risk of suffering severe effects associated with COVID-19.

“In South Australia the health care system was not overburdened by COVID-19 cases during the study period and as such did not represent a barrier to patient presentations at ED. The behaviour of not seeking treatment for urgent care conditions needs to be addressed in preparation for further possible COVID-19 restrictions and other pandemics.”

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Cancer clinical trial participation feedback sought

Medical oncologist, Professor Ian Olver is leading a new investigation to identify barriers to cancer patients participating in clinical trials.

The University of South Australia-based study is seeking to explore the drivers and deterrents that determine why as few as 5% of patients with cancer are enrolled in clinical trials.

Feedback is being sought from patients and carers for the  Cancer Trial Consumer Experience Survey.

The study investigators say that understanding the experiences of people who participate in clinical trials is essential to inform best practice.

“Working with people who have participated in cancer trials we know that an awareness of the trials themselves is a massive issue. If clinicians and patients aren’t aware of the range of clinical trials on offer, it’s impossible for them to take part,” Professor Olver said.

“By talking with clinical trial participants, we’re hoping to learn more about how they were informed and supported, both before, during and after their treatment. And, by capturing people’s experiences of clinical trials, we can identify what could be done better to prepare or support individuals with cancer to participate in clinical trials,” he added.

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