An additional chemotherapy option for people with advanced leiomyosarcoma is now available on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). Trabectedin, (brand name – Yondelis) offers renewed hope for patients facing this rare and challenging sarcoma cancer.

LMS, it’s a rare type of sarcoma cancer that develops in the smooth muscles, usually in the abdomen or uterus. LMS is characterised by its aggressive progression, often evolving at an alarming pace.  It is an aggressive type of cancer, which means it can grow quickly. This rare cancer has limited treatment options.

Associate Professor Prof Anne Hamilton, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and member of both ANZGOG and ANZSA, shared her thoughts, “Having Trabectedin on the PBS is a big step forward. It offers a new way to treat LMS and even allows doctors to run special tests to decide the best treatment plan for each patient.” Professor Hamilton further highlighted that when it comes to treating LMS, timing is everything. It’s essential to plan treatments carefully.

ANZGOG: Catalyzing change

ANZGOG has been at the forefront of research on this particular kind of sarcoma and has been funding studies through its Fund for New Research Grant program to better understand LMS and find effective treatments.

Emphasising the essence of centralised expertise, ANZGOG advocates for all LMS patients to engage in comprehensive consultations with their oncologists contingents prior to determining the most appropriate treatment trajectory. This collaborative approach maximizes therapeutic options and promises tailored care, fostering diligent oversight throughout their medical journey.

Given the complexity and rarity of LMS, it’s crucial for patients to see specialists who know a lot about this cancer. For those looking for such expert care, the ANZSA (Australia and New Zealand Sarcoma Association) has a list of specialist centres. Check out the list here.

Professor Jayesh Desai, Medical Oncologist and Director of the Bone and Soft Tissue Sarcoma service at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Melbourne, Australia, and Deputy-Chair of the Australia New Zealand Sarcoma Association (ANZSA, summed it up by saying, “Sarcoma isn’t common, and for those in its advanced stages, treatment options have been few. This new addition is indeed a big deal.” ANZSA statement.

Molecular testing is available via cancer specialists, through the Cancer Screening Program (CaSP, Omico)

Clinical trials which may be relevant, include ANZGOG’s PARAGON-2 (ACTRN12621000639820), as well as the MoST CIRCUIT (NCT04969887), and SUNRISE (NCT05269355) trials. Participating centres are listed on ANZCTR.