Left to right: Dr Tom Shakespeare explains the operation of a linear accelerator to patients Colin Sharp and David Haynes.
Left to right: Dr Tom Shakespeare explains the operation of a linear accelerator to patients Colin Sharp and David Haynes. Bruce Thomas

Best cancer care is now available

A DEDICATED team of clinicians and support staff, together with the wonders of modern technology, is delivering the best possible radio- therapy treatment in Australia to patients in Coffs Harbour.

Director of Area Cancer Services Dr Tom Shakespeare said with the installation of new equipment and the dedication of clinicians and staff, the treatment type at the North Coast Cancer Institute was better than most in Sydney.

“If you're going to have radio or chemotherapy, you couldn't get better care anywhere in Australia,” Dr Shakespeare said.

He was speaking as he demonstrated the operation of a second linear accelerator which is now fully operational at Coffs Harbour.

At a cost of more than $2 million each, the specialised equipment focuses radiation beams on specific areas targeted for treatment.

The machines are supported by complex computer technology, purpose-built facilities and highly trained staff.

Dr Shakespeare says the equipment can be used to treat many different forms of cancer including prostate cancer, skin cancer, breast cancer and colon cancer.

With the installation of the second machine, the unit can now carry out up to 70 treatments a day with more than 40,000 treatments provided since the facility commenced operation in 2007.

Almost all Coffs Harbour region residents requiring radiotherapy are now having their treatment completed at Coffs Harbour.

Dr Shakespeare said that this was a significant achievement.

“Patients are able to stay at home while accessing the lifesaving treatment they need, and for the majority without the need to wait,” he said.

“The Coffs Harbour facility can meet the practical health care needs of our patients to the highest standard.

"It is also providing timely delivery of treatment which reduces the stress and worry which can impact on the well-being of patients and their families.”

Patients Colin Sharp and David Haynes have both received treatment from the new equipment.

“It's fabulous,” Mr Sharp said.

“If this wasn't here I'd have to go to Newcastle or Sydney, away from friends and family.”

Mr Haynes said when his wife had cancer some years ago they had to travel to Canberra and Sydney for treatment, eventually having to stay in Sydney for two months.

Dr Shakespeare said purchase of the first machine was co-funded by State and Federal governments with the most recent machine being funded federally through a health innovations grant.



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