“For breast cancer, we worked with the McGrath Foundation across seven Australian sites to ensure that GPs and cancer care nurses deliver effective care for patients once their cancer treatment is completed,” Professor Chan says. “We’re now starting similar work for patients who have been treated for prostate cancer and lymphoma (a blood cancer), and with future expansion to support patients with lung, and head and neck cancers as well.”
The GP-centred care approach can also be adapted for managing patients with more unusual types of cancer. Professor Chan was recently awarded grant funding to create a program for patients with neuroendocrine cancers that form in glands and nerve cells in organs such as the bowel, pancreas, lung, skin or adrenal glands. Around 5,000 Australians are diagnosed with a neuroendocrine cancer each year.
“People diagnosed with neuroendocrine tumours are often younger than the average cancer patient and can struggle to work and maintain their quality of life,” Professor Chan says. “We’ve tailored our program to ensure GPs feel supported in managing these rarer types of cancers.”
In addition to running his own research program, Professor Chan is Director of the Caring Futures Institute at Flinders University.
“At the Caring Futures Institute, we focus not just on the traditional doctor, nurse and patient model of care, but also on enhancing self-care and their care networks,” he says. “We want to empower people to take control of their own, their family’s and their community’s health as much as possible.”
The work of 280 researchers at the Caring Futures Institute targets fundamentals of care, healthy start to life, disability and social inclusion, cancer care, cardiovascular care, healthy ageing and aged care, and palliative care, death and dying.
Professor Chan says he feels privileged to work in healthcare.
“I’m so lucky to work with a team of experts and offer each of them a focus so we can advance care of patients together,” he says. “Our research can really create positive change, and that’s such a strong motivation for me.”