You are here

SCANpatient: Synoptic reporting of CT scans assessing cancer of the pancreas

An exciting opportunity exists for PhD and Honours students to be involved in a large, national, multisite, randomised controlled trial to improve the quality of care provided to people with pancreatic cancer. Approximately 4,000 people are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer (PC) annually in Australia. People with PC are treated according to the extent of their disease at the time of diagnosis. One of the problems that doctors face is adequately distinguishing which patients should receive surgery. In this randomised controlled trial, researchers will test whether a structured radiology report can improve the accuracy of reporting of computed tomography (CT) scans in PC to optimise care. For more information on the randomised controlled trial please see the synopsis below. ** Stipend available for PhD scholars (see below) and $5,000 scholarship for Honours students** SYNOPSIS Whilst patients with locally advanced or metastatic PC have an extremely poor prognosis (with few patients living beyond 2–3 years), those with operable disease (who are otherwise fit) have a median survival of 20–28 months with 25% of patients alive at five years. Thus, accurately diagnosing patients suitable for surgery is of paramount importance. In a recent pilot study, we found the use of a structured, synoptic radiological report in the assessment of pancreatic CT scans demonstrated clinically significant improvement in accuracy of reporting localised PC. We propose to formally test this approach nationally. This randomised clinical trial (RCT) will compare the standard radiological approach to an alternative standard approach - the synoptic report, to determine if this approach results in a more accurate diagnosis of localised PC to improve delivery of care. Specifically, this novel RCT will determine the role of implementing the synoptic report template embedded into routine care, to assess whether this approach increases institutional accuracy in defining surgical resectability (or operability) of non-metastatic PC. The diagnostic algorithm incorporated into the synoptic template design will provide a uniform assessment of tumour operability, based on the recently published, international consensus criteria regarding tumour resectability. Better classifying patients with non-metastatic PC as having tumours that are either clearly resectable, borderline or locally advanced, will improve patient outcomes - significantly reducing the chances of patients undergoing initial surgery when the tumour is more advanced and critically, ensuring patients whose tumours are (inaccurately) reported as borderline resectable (or even locally advanced), do receive surgery if the tumours are in fact clearly operable.
Essential criteria: 
Minimum entry requirements can be found here:
pancreatic cancer; surgery; radiology; staging; synoptic reporting; diagnostic algorithm
School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine » Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine
Central Clinical School » Surgery - Alfred
Available options 
Time commitment 
Top-up scholarship funding available 
Year 1: 
Year 2: 
Year 3: 
Physical location 
553 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne (adjacent to The Alfred)
John Zalcberg

Want to apply for this project? Submit an Expression of Interest by clicking on Contact the researcher.