The Regional Trials Network in Victoria led by Border researchers has received a $18.6 million boost to expand its reach and focus on niche areas of cancer care.
The network was established in 2017 with Cancer Council Victoria funding and the Australian government has now backed its work over the next five years.
Albury Wodonga Health cancer services director Craig Underhill said the network's successful application would increase Border Medical Oncology Research Unit's capacity for clinical trials.
"It's a project for the whole state; it covers a population of about 1.7 million people in regional Victoria," he said.
"It's a great outcome for regional cancer patients ... it's right across a broad range of cancer treatments.
"Until we had buildings like the Albury Wodonga Regional Cancer Centre, and this network of regional centres, it was hard to apply for funding grants like this.
"We now have the capacity to do a lot more trials, so it brings us up to the more of a level of the metropolitan centres.
"In the future, we'll have the track record to do even more."
The ReVITALISE program that was the subject of the grant funding aims to increase trial participation in regional and rural areas by 2025.
It expands the six-site network to another two sites, in Mildura and La Trobe.
Dr Underhill said oncology for Indigenous, palliative and supportive care patients was a focus of the project.
"This funding is to help link a researcher at La Trobe University at Wodonga, Irene Blackberry - the plan is to do a whole lot more research in the geriatric oncology space," he said.
"We have [done work on this before], and Dr Christopher Steer who's based at the AWRCC, is actually considered an international expert in this space.
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"We're also focusing on what we call health services research, so trying to answer some problems particular to regional Australia."
Dr Underhill said Border Medical Oncology Research Unit's work through the network had resulted in more access for people on the Border.
"This program builds on that; part of this program is to enable more immunotherapy studies to be done, and also to do some work in up-skilling regional clinicians in how to manage some of the side effects of immunotherapy.
"It's achieved a lot, it's been able to get a lot more patients onto clinical trials."
The Regional Trials Network was established with clinical trials sites in Shepparton, Geelong, Bendigo and Warrnambool, and will now cover eight sites.
The funding application was supported by the AWRCC Trust Fund.