Professor Gary Lee named Cancer Researcher of the Year
Prof Gary Lee, head of the Pleural Medicine Unit has been awarded the 2019 Cancer Researcher of the Year by the Cancer Council WA.
Prof Lee is a world leader in pleural medicine and has been instrumental in advancing treatment options for patients with lung and breast cancer.
More than 8000 Australians and one million cancer patients worldwide suffer from breathlessness due to pleural effusion, the build-up of fluid in the chest. The condition causes disabling breathlessness that requires repeated invasive procedures to remove the fluid. The management of cancer-related effusions also accounts for more than 8000 bed days and more than 10 million healthcare costs each year in public hospitals of Western Australia alone.
Prof Gary Lee and his team of specialists, have led two revolutionary studies across hospitals in Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia investigating a new drainage device called IPCs (indwelling pleural catheters).
IPCs are a small device that are inserted into the chest cavity via a simple procedure. The device then enables patients to drain their fluid at home if and when they become breathless.
The results of the studies have shown that IPCs improve patient symptoms and quality of life.
“To me and my team the most important thing is that IPCs allow patients with advanced cancer to spend significantly less time in hospital and more time at home with family.” Prof Lee
This new style of treatment also mean patients are spending less time in hospital, thus saving more than 14,000 hospital bed days across Australia per year.
People with lung and breast cancer who are experiencing breathlessness are encouraged to speak to their doctor about treatment options.
More about the Pleural Medicine Unit
Prof Gary Lee is a Respiratory Specialist at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, a Professor at the University of Western Australia and is the Head of the Pleural Medicine Unit within the Institute for Respiratory Health.
In 1999, Prof Gary Lee established the first research group in Australia specialising pleural medicine. Made up of both clinical and laboratory staff, the group is the most active research unit in the world. This has resulted in significantly improved the diagnosis and management journey of cancer patients with pleural effusions.
Prof Lee is regarded as the world leader in pleural medicine and has delivered more than 300 invited lectures in 30 countries. His work has attracted than 20 overseas specialists to undertake pleural training at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, most of whom were sponsored by their home government and returned to their country/state to start their own pleural services.
Funding for the AMPLE (Australasian Malignant Pleural Effusion) and AMPLE 2 trial has come from NHMRC and Cancer Council WA grants.