Cancer Survivorship

Cancer Survivorship

Victorians living in regional and remote locations commonly have a lower five-year cancer survival rate than their metropolitan counterparts. Residents of the Loddon-Mallee region have a 4% lower five-year cancer survival rate (65%) than those in Melbourne (69%) (Victorian Cancer Registry, Cancer Council Victoria 2015). However, data is currently lacking on cancer staging and treatment to assist with further analysis. This is anecdotally supported by health and community agencies across these regions who report lack of health service capacity and patient access as key barriers to achieving quality cancer survivorship care.

Murray PHN was successful for Phase II of the Victorian Cancer Survivorship Program Grants Scheme through the Victorian Cancer Survivorship Program (VCSP) which was established by the Department of Health and Human Services.

The cancer survivorship project began in 2016 with the establishment of working groups and the commencement of community and health service engagement. A number of local events and placement opportunities for general practice has been made available within oncology teams (click here to see current professional development opportunities).

Murray PHN hopes to improve shared care planning through the development and implementation of shared care and communication tools and protocols, and to embed the model of care in health services and general practices by mid 2019.

We are working with general practice, health services and the community in Campaspe, Buloke, Gannawarra and Swan Hill regions to achieve:

  • improved access to health and community services for cancer survivors
  • increased capacity of primary and community health agencies to support cancer survivors
  • creating and/or maintaining effective and sustainable agency partnerships

Pictured: Health professionals who came together in Swan Hill on 23 August 2018, to enhance their knowledge and skills for cancer survivorship care. One Practice Nurse commented, that the event provided great information for healthcare professionals in inspiring, motivating, empowering and supporting cancer patients "I would have loved to have heard more".

Support group | Gannawarra and Buloke

Are you a cancer survivor or do you support someone with cancer and live in the Gannawarra or Buloke region? Murray PHN has established a cancer support group to provide a safe space for people affected by cancer. The group enables people to develop local connections, providing emotional and other supports including the sharing of resources, experiences and ideas.

The next meeting is at 1pm on Thursday 12 September, at the Sporties Pub in Kerang.

For further information, contact Sue Bremner.

Research project 

As part of this project we conducted research, which aimed to improve the experience of individuals who had been diagnosed with cancer and were undergoing treatment or completed treatment. Additionally, we worked to improve the knowledge of health care providers and organisations who provide a service to a cancer survivor.

A cancer survivor is someone who has had or has a diagnosis of cancer and are undergoing treatment or follow-up care.

People who were newly diagnosed with cancer, and their carers - who lived in the towns of Boort, Pyramid Hill, Inglewood, Wedderburn, Korong Vale, Charlton, Wycheproof, Quambatook, Birchip, Donald,  Cohuna, Kerang, Swan Hill, Sea Lake, Rochester, Rushworth, Echuca or Kyabram - participated.

Judith, a cancer survivor from Kyabram was one of the participants in this research project. Judith took part in order to help those people who were facing a similar situation. Her hope is to assist in closing any gaps in treatment for others where it has not been possible to have their treatment close to home and to improve facilities and services, that are required at such a critical time in people's lives.

Judith shared with Murray PHN, some of her concerns, "I was usually not able to see the same doctor during the early days prior to being referred to Peter Mac and found this very unsettling as each time I went to the clinic I had to tell my story again. After returning from Peter Mac I was mostly able to see the same GP who I had begun to form a doctor/patient relationship with but several months into the journey he moved away. There doesn’t seem to be consistency in GP care which is so vitally important for patients with cancer and chronic illnesses."

Pamela, a carer from Swan Hill who also participated, told Murray PHN, "I would love that all the medical people asked more questions about the persons full medical history, not just the area that they specialise in and treat. People often have more than one medical problem and the treatment for one condition may not be suitable for the other condition."

Donald Medical Clinic Case Study

Donald Medical Practice completed a Cancer Survivorship Incentive Grant project, which included a review of their bowel cancer screening processes and the way they recorded bowel cancer results into their software.

Not only did the staff at Donald participate in training at Peter Mac Cancer Centre but they introduced Cancer Survivorship Care Plans into practice, increased their communities screening rates and successfully completed a quality improvement and accreditation activity.

Watch the video above to learn more.


For cancer survivors and their carers

For health professionals

Dr Ewa Piejko, Murray PHN Medical Advisor and Kathryn Cunning, Practice Nurse Golden City Medical

Dr Rob Blum, Medical Oncologist at Bendigo Health

Breanne Edwards, Occupational Therapist from Echuca Health

Alice Saver- Psychologist from Physical Mind Co. Bendigo

For more information

Gemma Bilardi, Murray PHN Cancer Survivorship Project Coordinator
e: or  t: 0476 830 927

Comments are closed.