Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital doctor helps establish WA Lymphoma Centre of Research Excellence to combat blood cancer


Dr Chan Cheah is the leader of the lymphoma team at SCGH and is leveraging his strong relationships with major cancer research centres in Melbourne and the US to establish the WA Lymphoma Centre of Research Excellence. Picture: Andrew Ritchie www.communitypix.com.au d482107
Dr Chan Cheah is the leader of the lymphoma team at SCGH and is leveraging his strong relationships with major cancer research centres in Melbourne and the US to establish the WA Lymphoma Centre of Research Excellence. Picture: Andrew Ritchie www.communitypix.com.au d482107

WITH blood cancer the third leading cause of cancer deaths in Australia, a Perth doctor is pushing for WA to lead the way in research and give patients access to vital clinical trials.

Clinical haematologist and lymphoma team leader at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital (SCGH) Chan Cheah is the driving force behind the WA Lymphoma Centre of Research Excellence, a collaboration between UWA, SCGH, Hollywood Private Hospital, Linear Clinical Research, Lymphoma Australia and the Rachael Doherty Foundation, and supported by the Snowdome Foundation.

“The seed has been in my mind for some time; when I finished my training in the United States, I had offers there and in Melbourne, but an opportunity came up at SCGH,” he said.

“The number of clinical trials West Australians can access is low; if you run out of treatment options in Perth, there are no options left.

“Elsewhere, there are more trials to choose from.”

Dr Cheah said the cost of travelling to access therapies can be in excess of $100,000, and means seriously ill patients are put under constant stress from travel and being away from family.

The doctor has just been named the Cancer Council WA early career cancer researcher of the year, and wants to leverage his relationships with interstate and overseas research centres to give more options to West Australians.

“The field is advancing in an unprecedented way with new treatments coming out,” he said.

“The Centre will benefit the 600 West Australians who are diagnosed with lymphoma each year, and the thousands more living with the disease by giving them increased access to new drugs, sometimes years before they would be available as standard of care.”

The WA Lymphoma Centre of Research Excellence project is already underway, and it is not a single physical site; Dr Cheah said it spans SCGH, Linear Clinical Research, and Hollywood Hospital.

“They’ll pool resources and the idea is that all the sites will do what they’re doing already and collectively run trials,” Dr Cheah said.

Dr Cheah has also joined forces with Melbourne-based Snowdome Foundation – their first foray outside Victoria – where the blood cancer group has raised more than $21 million for projects.

A gala dinner last week at Wildflower hosted by Adrian and Michaela Fini raised more than $285,000 for the WA Lymphoma Centre of Research Excellence, surpassing the goal of $100,000.

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