Chan Cheah (1985-96) fights blood cancer

Chan Cheah (1985-96) fights blood cancer

"Everyone in WA with a blood cancer should have the opportunity to participate in a clinical trial."

We featured Chan Cheah in the Haleian whilst he was still working at the world’s largest cancer hospital, MD Anderson Centre in Houston, Texas - back in 2015. It wasn’t long after that that Chan had the opportunity to bring his family back to Perth to work at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital with renowned haematologist, Professor David Joske.

Chan’s work focuses on curing more patients with lymphoma, the most common blood cancer. Lymphoma is the fifth most common cancer in Australia and the third highest in causing cancer-related deaths. Six hundred West Australians are diagnosed with lymphoma each year and thousands more are living with the disease. Until now, Western Australians with lymphoma and other blood cancers had significantly lower prospects of accessing cutting-edge and often life- extending trials than patients in other states.
“You can’t screen for it,” Chan said, “but we’re at the tipping point. There are all these new drugs that need to be tested and all these patients who need treatment. Ideally everyone in WA with a blood cancer should have the opportunity to participate in a clinical trial.”
It was this drive that led to the launch of a new WA Lymphoma Centre of Research Excellence, a collaboration between Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, Hollywood Private Hospital and Linear Clinical Research. The new Centre will be run in WA with the support of the Snowdome Foundation, a Melbourne-based, national blood cancer charity whose goal is to help patients with blood cancer lead longer, better lives. Established seven years ago, Snowdome has already seen more than $21 million dollars directed into blood cancer trials. All funds raised in Western Australia will go exclusively to patients within WA.

Headed by Chan, the Centre will increase clinical trials and access to new therapies to be conducted in WA, in collaboration with international centres of excellence. Other goals are to attract and retain the best doctors and researchers and ultimately accelerate research into finding cures for blood cancers. The Centre was successfully launched on 24 April at Wildflower restaurant (Como the Treasury) with Perth philanthropists raising $320,000.

At just 38 years of age, Dr Cheah is considered an emerging international leader in lymphoma research and was named Early Career Cancer Researcher of the Year in 2018 by the Cancer Council Western Australia.

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