Cancer patients urged to continue treatment

Coffs Coast Advocate

NEWS that Coffs Harbour cancer patients have been overdosing on radiation during radiotherapy should not discourage sufferers from choosing the treatment, according to the Cancer Council.

Last week the North Coast Area Health Service (NCAHS) revealed that more than 70 patients suffering from skin and breast cancers have been given higher doses of radiation than intended by a Linear Accelerator machine at Coffs Harbour Integrated Cancer Care Centre. NCAHS chief executive, Chris Crawford, said the patients received an elevated level of radiation but a review found that patients had 'no adverse outcomes' from the human error.

Cancer Council NSW North Coast area manager, Patty Delaney, said the news would be distressing to sufferers but it should not discourage them from seeking out radiotherapy.

“From a regional perspective you have to be mindful of the patients' wellbeing, who are already going through so much fear and anxiety,” Ms Delaney said.

“The fact that the health department has been open about the error, and that it was under the acceptable leeway, should not scare patients off.”

Ms Delaney said she was concerned the news would reflect badly on medical staff at Coffs Harbour Integrated Cancer Care Centre.

“They work so hard at the Coffs campus, the staff would be devastated by this,” she said. “I only hope that this won't impact on the reputation of our dedicated local medical staff.”

Member for Coffs Harbour Andrew Fraser said he was 'definitely not worried' about the level of care received at Coffs Harbour Health Campus.

“This incident has created angst in the staff and the community but we receive excellent service from our local health professionals and I am confident that it was a data entry problem and not indicative of a larger problem,” Mr Fraser said.

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