It’s a lofty ambition for the inaugural Director of Flinders University’s Caring Futures Institute (CFI), whose work is focused on extending and improving the quality of life for survivors of cancer, a disease that will directly affect one in two Australians by the age of 85.
While Prof Chan’s work is not about curing cancer or discovering new lifesaving treatments, his work impacts people by extending quantity of life and improving quality-of-life post treatment.
Prof Chan’s drive to improve care runs parallel to the vision of the Flinders CFI, which is to reimagine care and self-care, why it matters and how it can lead to greater wellbeing, lower morbidity, lower mortality, and lower health care costs.
Joining the Flinders CFI in August 2021 from Queensland University of Technology (QUT), Prof Chan brought with him two NHMRC research grants and one MRFF grant, totalling $4.5 million, that will go towards projects that improve quantity and quality of life for cancer survivors.
These grants are aimed at developing and implementing a model of care to allow general practitioners (GPs) and other primary care providers (practice nurses and allied health professionals) to play a greater part in caring for cancer survivors.
Prof Chan says while cancer incidence rates are on the rise, so are rates of cancer survival, and with that comes an increased risk of long-term health issues and a range of chronic and comorbid conditions.
“The cancer system is close to tipping over,” he says. “There is no more space for us to see more cancer patients in a cancer centre. That’s one significant issue.”
“The second issue is the oncologists are trained to look after your cancer. It is not their expertise to look after your hypertension, your diabetes, your anxiety, your social circumstances and all those sorts of things.”