Stronger relationships and collaboration between health organisations will be important to future development of cancer management.
The Department of Health and Human Services held a consultation in Bendigo on Monday as part of the development of the Victorian Cancer Plan 2020-24. The plan aims to identify priorities to prevent cancer, increase survival rates and improve the experience for patients.
Clinical director of the Bendigo Cancer Centre and Loddon Mallee Integrated Cancer Services Rob Blum said the plan was an important body of work that would outline key areas of focus for cancer management in the future.
"It's quite broad, starting with prevention, screening, treatment, well-being support and research," he said. "It covers the large pillars that will govern cancer management.
"We want to improve the outcomes for our patients and need to have some sort of overseeing plan that allows all organisations to look after patients."
In Bendigo, Dr Blum said cancer treatment had become more centralised thanks to the Bendigo Cancer Centre.
"That has allowed a concentration of health professionals to work in a more collaborative way," he said.
"It has also meant that people in the region now have a centralised area to go to for assistance, communication and education."
"What it has also done is actually create this organisation that has responsibly for the region. Historically, there might have been some informal relationships but people (mostly) looked after their own turf.
"Now the role of Cancer Centre is to look after the region to provide some clinical support, education support, help with how services are governed."
Dr Blum said survival rates of cancer patients were improving.
"Certainly there is already evidence to show the number of people who are dying from cancer is dropping," he said.
"That's due to a combination of people's awareness and preventative strategies but also better treatments. It's a complex process that requires a lot of partnership and working together.
"This (Victorian Cancer Plan) consultation has been happening over many weeks in different ways and is an opportunity to get people in communities to participate."
Dr Blum said Monday's discussion looked at the benefits of formalising relationships with different health organisations.
"(By formalising relationships) you then share the responsibility in providing a particular service or responsibility which, if it's not formalised, it can almost be based on good will," he said.
"That's (one of the) the purposes of today, to get opinions from a whole breadth of people to see what the general."
Dr Blum said it was also paramount to hear from consumers and patients in relation to cancer treatment.
"(They) have lived experiences and can give insights that you sometimes don't really appreciate if you working on the other side of a desk," he said.
"A patient's voice is critical. There's been pointed attempts to get patients and their carers involved in the process so that it is a really broad set of voices that are participating.
"Without it you can miss the best way forward. Particularly when you have groups that historically haven't had good voices.
"Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander people really haven't had appropriate voices to shape the treatment that works best for them. The same could be said for LGBT+ groups, people from overseas with language issues and people with handicap issues.
"If you don't get appropriate input, you'll miss some obvious things that they could tell you. It's paramount."
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