Cancer patients trial at-home COVID-19 tests


A new clinical trial aims to find out if cancer patients can safely self-administer COVID-19 tests at home rather than risk infection by visiting clinics in the community.

Icon Group, Australia’s largest cancer care provider, has begun the study with patients in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria.

It hopes the research results will help to protect immunocompromised patients and healthcare workers from active COVID-19 cases. 

“We know that for many cancer patients, moving around in the community can not only expose them to COVID-19 but also viruses such as the common cold,” Icon Group Director of Research Dr John Bashford said.

“At-home testing is an important way we can protect patients from viral infection at a time when they are most vulnerable, and reduce the risk of COVID-19 for patients and staff within our centres.”

The trial has launched at Icon’s Wahroonga, South Brisbane, North Lakes, Wesley and Richmond clinics. 

It will enrol a small number of new and current patients across a four-week period, involving a COVID-19 self-test at home before visiting the cancer centre at the next appointment.

“The clinical trial will identify if self-administered testing is a safe and feasible option to screen patients for COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses, providing a level of certainty if we found ourselves with a pandemic the size of those we have seen overseas,” Dr Bashford said.

“We are committed to ensuring our patients are safe throughout this pandemic and possible future outbreaks of infection.”

Icon Group, which recently acquired Ashford Cancer Centre Research to further its expansion into South Australia, now operates the largest private cancer clinical trials program in the country.

“We hope this research will provide thousands of cancer patients with the confidence that they do not need to put themselves at further risk of COVID-19 by attending a testing centre or delay receiving vital treatment when displaying symptoms,” Dr Bashford added.

Icon Group has contributed to a number of milestone trials providing significant advancements in cancer treatments, including the ground-breaking study that changed the use of Herceptin in breast cancer patients. 

The recent TRANSFORM study, meanwhile, found that stereotactic radiation therapy for metastatic prostate cancer could delay treatment progression for more than two years – changing the standard of care for men with advanced prostate cancer across the world.

Read more: Icon expansion boosts cancer trials access

Read more: Australian-first study for new prostate solution


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