A national study is underway to find out more about the causes and treatment of neuroendocrine cancer, also known as “NET” cancer.
In late 2012, following a generous gift from Sir Graeme and Lady Ngaire Douglas, the Translational Medicine Trust was established through the School of Medicine Foundation. The trust has since had further generous support from Anne and David Norman, Newmarket Rotary Charitable Foundation, and others. It is funding the NETwork! Project, a collaboration of cancer clinicians and scientists who are developing a national framework to manage neuroendocrine cancer that couples clinical practice to a translational research model. By combining scientific and clinical expertise, this programme aims to improve outcomes for patients with NET cancer.
“The incidence, treatment and survival from NETs have never been examined in New Zealand and anecdotal data suggests there is significant variation in management options nationally,” says principal investigator Dr Ben Lawrence, a medical oncologist who specialises in gastrointestinal cancers.
An important part of the study has been setting up a register to collect patient data across the country. While it is estimated that at least 200 New Zealanders are diagnosed each year with some form of NET cancer, this retrospective audit, covering 2008 to 2012, has been set up with the aim of providing the first definitive picture of the incidence and treatment of NET cancers in New Zealand.
The second key aspect of the project is analysis of pieces of NET cancer, both specimens collected historically and from patients who are newly diagnosed with NET cancer. Cutting edge genomic and molecular analysis will provide a greater understanding of the biology of NETs, and will ultimately provide information to guide patient care.
A website is being developed to provide information about the project in both English and Māori. It also links to organisations such as the Unicorn Foundation NZ, which helps to educate and support patients and their families, and aims to improve access to state-of-the-art diagnostic testing and therapy,www.unicornfoundation.org.nz
Pictured: Associate Professor Malcolm Legget, Chair of the Translational Medicine Trust, is cycling the length of the North Island to raise funds for Unicorn Foundation NZ which supports and educates patients with neuroendocrine cancer.
Sir Graeme and Lady Ngaire Douglas; Anne and David Norman; Newmarket Rotary Charitable Foundation; and anonymous donors.