Sep 12, 2016

Victorian-first radiotherapy machine to treat more cancer patients, sooner

A Victorian-first radiotherapy machine which will be able to more accurately target tumours in cancer patients has been unveiled at the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness & Research Centre (ONJ Centre).

Victorian Health Minister Jill Hennessy officially launched the $3 million linear accelerator which enables more precise imaging and radiotherapy treatment to tumours, therefore minimising damage to surrounding tissue and reducing possible side-effects.

The ElektaTM linear accelerator provides a unique 4D imaging technique on the treatment machine, a first for Victoria. The technique allows for real time video to show precisely where the tumour lies, and how it may be affected by a patient's breathing. By providing a precise location, doctors are able to target radiotherapy treatment to the tumour area and avoid surrounding normal organs or tissue and reduce possible side effects.

This is great news for patients like Rebecca Davies, a 33-year-old mother of three who is one of the first patients in the state to benefit from the targeted imaging.

Mrs Davies will attend the ONJ Centre for six weeks to receive treatment including radiotherapy, chemotherapy and possible surgery in order to tackle her stage 3 lung cancer diagnosis.

Her recent diagnosis has given Mrs Davies an insight into the way the ONJ Centre offers support to patients and their families.

"It's a comfort to know that I'm able to access the newest technology in a world-class facility. The machine's targeting will help not only treating the cancer but also look after my long term health by being so targeted," Mrs Davies said.

"I'm feeling really positive; the team is looking after me and it's great to see them working together not just on my cancer but on looking after me and my family, being really clear and allowing me to participate in my treatment by making sure we are as informed as we want to be."

The ONJ Centre's director of Radiation Oncology, Associate Professor Farshad Foroudi, says treatments can be adapted daily to allow for even slight changes in patient and organ movements, improving precision and giving patients a better treatment experience.

"For some patients the new technology will also mean that they will need far less treatments than previously to see significant results,'' Assoc Prof Foroudi said. "This means fewer visits to the hospital, a reduction in side effects and - because fewer treatments are required - we will have more availability to treat more patients."