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Thanks to a recent donation from the Ladybird Foundation, researchers at St John of God Subiaco Hospital will be able to run a randomised placebo-controlled clinical trial which aims to improve quality of life for breast cancer patients. Led by Dr Michelle McMullen, researchers will assess the effectiveness of different vaginal creams at reducing the symptoms of dryness, pain and irritation that are common in women after breast cancer therapy. Vaginal atrophy is a common and frequently distressing condition affecting breast cancer survivors, and this trial will provide further information regarding much-needed treatments.

Dr Pamela Hendry, Director of the Ladybird Foundation, said that it was important to support breast cancer research because the disease is the most common cancer occurring in Australian women (as well as posing a risk to men).

“Despite previous advances in diagnosis and treatments for breast cancer, more than 3,000 women will die of breast cancer in Australia this year, many of whom are active and vital members of their families and the community,” she said.

“These conditions affect the lives of many Western Australians.”

Dr Hendry said that breast cancer research also became personally significant for her when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013. This coincided with the establishment of the Ladybird Foundation, to respond to the identified shortfall for breast and gynaecologic cancer research in Western Australia.

“Excellent Breast cancer research is essential to provide the evidence for the benefits and safety of new treatments for breast cancer, which aim to improve treatment outcomes for all patients,” Dr Hendry said.

“By providing funding support to our excellent local researchers, more Western Australian patients will be able to participate in clinical trials of new treatments and potentially benefit from better treatment outcomes at the earliest opportunity.”

Dr Michelle McMullen, who is leading the new research at St John of God Subiaco Hospital, said she hoped the research would make a real difference in the lives of breast cancer survivors.

“Vaginal Atrophy is a common but important condition affecting a large number of breast cancer survivors. There is an unmet need for more effective treatments, and I hope that this trial will provide evidence to support the use of safer, non-hormonal therapies,” Dr McMullen said.

“Ultimately, I hope this trial makes a small contribution to improved quality of life for breast cancer survivors.”

Dr McMullen also expressed gratitude to the Ladybird Foundation for their generous support.

“Funding for local research enables women to access clinical trials without having to relocate or miss out on opportunities. For patients in a city like Perth this is so crucial. Investment in research not only helps to fund a single trial, but also builds capacity for future trials and a culture of academic excellence within a cancer service that benefits all patients,” Dr McMullen said.

“To our donors - thank you for your generosity and partnering with us to improve cancer care."

Each and every day, donors make an incredible difference for caregivers, patients and their families at St John of God Health Care. You can read more stories of real life impact here.

Dr Pamela Hendry and Dr Michelle McMullen cropped

“To our donors - thank you for your generosity and partnering with us to improve cancer care.” - Lead researcher Dr Michelle McMullen (pictured, right, with Dr Pamela Hendry of the Ladybird Foundation)

St John of God Foundation and St John of God Health Care are not-for-profit organisations working together to improve health care in our community.
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