Hospital funding gives radiotherapy cancer boost

Australia's state of Victoria will continue to treat all urgent radiotherapy patients within 48 hours, with an additional $8.9 million for state-of-the-art equipment, Health Minister Bronwyn Pike announced.

"The diagnosis and treatment of cancer patients in Victoria will be further improved with this new equipment," Ms Pike said.

"The Bracks Government is turning around our health system by ensuring patients get the support they need, close to where they live."

The Austin Hospital will receive $6.4 million for two major pieces of equipment while the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre will tomorrow take delivery of an Australian-first $3.2 million Trilogy system which will ensure it stays at the forefront of radiotherapy treatment.

A further $2.5 million will be spent to replace an old linear accelerator at the Geelong Hospital.

Ms Pike said that with other radiotherapy equipment now coming on line, Victoria will have 21 public linear accelerators in operation within 18 months – more than 30 per cent more than when the Bracks Government came to power.

"This new equipment will help ensure that Victoria's radiotherapy performance remains consistently better than the national average – where waiting times have been blowing out at the same time when Victoria is meeting the Australian Faculty of Radiation Oncology-endorsed standards for urgent patients," Ms Pike said.

The Bracks Government has committed $78 million over four years to upgrade and expand radiotherapy services as part of its Fighting Cancer policy, Ms Pike said.

The new equipment at the Austin comprises a $2.4 million replacement linear accelerator and a $4 million cyclotron to replace a machine that is now outdated.

The cyclotron produces radioisotopes for Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scans – which are vital for cancer surgery and radiotherapy. This is one of just 5 cyclotrons in Australia.

The Peter MacCallum's new Trilogy system is a state-of-the-art linear accelerator.

"The Trilogy incorporates CT scanning capabilities with radiotherapy treatment, enabling treatment of patients with small cancers, particularly of the brain, with a great deal of precision," Ms Pike said.

"The Peter Mac has also taken delivery of an Acuity digital simulator – only the second in Australia – which is also used in radiotherapy treatment."

Ms Pike said the Bracks Government's Fighting Cancer policy was establishing integrated treatment and services for people with cancer.

"This includes a $19 million project now under way to build two new bunkers as part of an expanded radiotherapy centre at the Moorabbin Hospital," she said.

"It also includes new radiotherapy treatment services at the Andrew Love Cancer Centre in Geelong and in the Latrobe Valley, ensuring country patients can get their treatment at home. Since the election of the Bracks Government, radiotherapy treatment equipment has also been installed at Bendigo and Ballarat."


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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