2022 Cancer Council WA Collaborative Cancer Grant Scheme

In 2022, this scheme is supported by Cancer Council WA, Government of Western Australia, Cancer Research Trust, Charlies Foundation for Research, Curtin University, Edith Cowan University, The University of Western Australia and Telethon Kids Institute.

2022 Collaborative Cancer Grant scheme


Project title: A clinical trial to reduce the effects of vaginal atrophy in breast cancer survivors

Dr Michelle McMullen, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital

Dr Karen Taylor, WA Cancer and Palliative Care Network

Ms Amy Epstein, Telethon Kids Institute

Description: Breast cancer treatment can cause vaginal atrophy (VA) - thinning, drying and inflammation of the vaginal wall resulting in discomfort, painful sexual intercourse, and distressing urinary symptoms. VA affects 75% of survivors who want more support to manage symptoms. Concern about safety of vaginal oestrogen has led to an unmet need for effective non-hormonal treatment for VA.
The study will compare the effectiveness of vaginal vitamin D/E, and hyaluronic acid gel, in reducing VA symptoms and explore why symptoms may not be well managed in GP practice and oncology clinics. A randomised trial will compare each treatment to a placebo. Participants will complete a symptom questionnaire before and after treatment. Vaginal swabs will measure changes. To understand current management issues, GPs and patients will be interviewed.
This research will expand treatment options to reduce the impact of VA for breast cancer survivors.
Funding from Cancer Council WA: $22,666 ($30,000 total)


Project title:  Insight into how General Practitioners respond to notification that their patient has dense breasts after screening mammogram

Dr Jacqueline Frayne, The University of Western Australia

Dr Ramya Ramon, Royal Australian College of General Practitioners

A/Prof Lucy Gilkes, University of Notre Dame


Breast cancer in Australia is common, with early detection vital to improve outcomes. BreastScreen WA is unique in notifying both women and their General Practitioners (GPs), of reduced sensitivity of mammography for those with increased breast density as part of their routine mammography screening. They advise that women assessed as intermediate risk may benefit from regular supplemental breast ultrasound. Despite the importance of breast density as a risk factor there remains a lack of evidence to guide GPs.

By establishing a strong foundation for collaborative primary care research, we aim to provide insight into current practices, to assess the impact on GP visits and actions, and to inform policy in clinical practice recommendations regarding breast density notification.
This study will investigate the perspectives of GPs, via interviews and analysis of management for patients who received notification of increased breast density. Feedback incorporated into a focus group of GPs and key stakeholders will explore these recommendations to improve practice implementation and educational strategies, which will ultimately benefit consumers and clinicians.

Funding from Cancer Council WA: $20,801 ($64,830 total)