Oncolgy clinics commence

NEW palliative oncology clinics have commenced in Coffs Harbour and Lismore.

A first for the North Coast, these clinics are primarily for patients with advanced, incurable cancer who are suffering from symptoms and requiring supportive care.

The clinics are run by the North Coast’s new cancer specialist, Dr Rahim Tahir, who is primarily based at the North Coast Cancer Institute in Coffs Harbour.

Dr Tahir was recruited from the prestigious Peter MacCallum Cancer Institute in Melbourne, where he received training in both radiation oncology and palliative care.

“This is a rare combination of expertise and the North Coast Cancer Institute is extraordinarily lucky to have gained such an outstanding cancer specialist,” said the area director of cancer services for the North Coast Area Health Service, Associate Professor Tom Shakespeare.

“The advantage of dedicated palliative oncology clinics is that they allow for more rapid access to cancer treatments, and provide holistic support for patients and their carers,” Dr Tahir said.

“As well they provide ongoing follow-up for patients with advanced cancer.”

Associate Professor Shakespeare said Dr Tahir would also conduct a weekly clinic at the NCCI located in Lismore.

“The Lismore clinic is also run concurrently with the area director of palliative care, Dr Joanne Doran,” he said.

“This has the additional benefit of providing an extra dimension of palliative care support to patients with complex problems.

“These patients will obtain a benefit from consulting with two leaders in the field.”

Dr Shakespeare said about 50 per cent of the radiotherapy workload in Coffs Harbour was in palliative oncology, with between 300-400 cases a year requiring palliative oncology input.

“This is our biggest group of patients,” Associate Professor Shakespeare said.

He said the clinics would allow rapid evaluation and effective treatment in the shortest possible time, improving the quality of life and in some cases length of life for patients.

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