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Perth is home to Australian-first study hoping to improve mesothelioma care

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An innovative medical study, the first of its kind in Australia, hopes to boost the quality of life of patients who are terminally ill with the asbestos-related disease mesothelioma.

In collaboration with the United Kingdom-based ‘RESPECT-Meso’ study, Perth’s Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital will be the only other site outside of the UK, and will see strong collaboration with world-class clinicians.

The study – formally titled the ‘Regular Early Specialist Symptom Control Treatment on quality of life in malignant Mesothelioma’ – has been made possible in Australia with a $21,390 grant from Slater and Gordon’s Health Projects and Research Fund.

Slater and Gordon practice group leader Tricia Wong said RESPECT-Meso was a worthy recipient and the study could bring about ground-breaking findings which were relevant to Australians suffering mesothelioma.

“It is important that as a leading asbestos litigation firm we show our support for the work that healthcare professionals are doing to improve the quality of life for victims of asbestos-related diseases,” she said.

“We applaud Dr Brims’ work in improving and managing treatment for those suffering mesothelioma and are proud to fund this important study.”

Dr Fraser Brims, Consultant Respiratory Physician from Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital  and the Lung Institute of Western Australia, is leading the study and said the grant would enable the employment of a specialist lung cancer nurse.

“We know that even at diagnosis, some mesothelioma patients have difficult symptoms and need a high level of care including medical and allied health services, social and emotional support, for their carers and families as well,” Dr Brims said.

“Mesothelioma generally carries a poor prognosis with half of all patients having died within a year of diagnosis.

“We want to see if we can improve the quality of life of mesothelioma sufferers, and their carers, by providing specialist care at the early stages of their illness as opposed to reserving this until their illness is quite advanced, as is current practice around the world.

“We will monitor the effect of the additional care by examining quality of life and other important aspects such as the need for unplanned hospital admissions, doctor’s appointments and tests.

“Ultimately, we aim to see if we can improve their final months of life.”

Dr Brims said the study would start in early 2015 at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital and his team would recruit up to 25 patients contributing vital data and experience to the RESPECT-Meso study, which he has helped to establish in the UK.

Slater and Gordon’s Health Projects Research Fund offers funding to research projects that have the potential to improve the treatment of people with asbestos-related diseases, occupation-caused cancers or who live with a significant disability as a consequence of a catastrophic injury.

It also supports education initiatives and information sharing projects among medical and other health professionals.

Applications for grants of between $2000 and $25,000 will be distributed as part of a $2 million philanthropic program in Australia and the United Kingdom.

More information on the RESPECT-Meso study can be found at www.respect-meso.org or by contacting Dr Brims on fraser.brims@uwa.edu.au