New x-ray therapy equipment has been installed at Stawell Regional Hospital in the lead to the Stawell Austin Radiation Oncology Service (SAROS) commencing in late May.
Austin Health oncologist, Dr Louise Gorman, said the new equipment uses rays to kill cancer cells and reduce the need for surgery for patients.
"Radiation therapy is used to treat skin cancers that have formed on or just below the surface of the skin," Dr Gorman said.
"Radiation destroys the unhealthy cells associated with skin cancer and because the rays only just penetrate the skin this type of treatment does not damage the deep tissue that sits underneath.
"Treatment by radiation therapy typically consists of four to six, half hour sessions and can cure skin cancer, removing the need for patients to have surgery to treat their condition.
"The process is very much like having an x-ray. The radiation can't be seen or felt and is painless for the patient.
"Cancer cells are more sensitive to radiation and are destroyed by the treatment where as healthy cells are able to repair themselves following the treatment.
Austin Health currently provide cancer services through the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness and Research Centre in Melbourne and through the Ballarat Austin Radiation Oncology Centre so we're looking forward to providing this new service in conjunction with Stawell Regional Health," she said
The Minister for Health Jenny Mikakos welcomed the installation of the new equipment.
"This region's first comprehensive skin cancer service is another step closer with the arrival of state-of-the-art radiotherapy equipment," Ms Mikakos said.
"We've proud to have invested $250,000 for the equipment that will make a real difference to the lives of people with skin cancer in Stawell and beyond.
"Patients will very soon be able to get the highest quality and safest radiotherapy treatment they need, closer to home," she said.
Stawell Regional Health's Acting Director of Clinical Services, Kate Pryde, said the equipment being installed at Stawell Hospital has been imported from Germany with local metal workers crafting lead plates used during therapy.
"Radiation therapy is a key treatment option for people with skin cancers and this new service will be available free of charge to patients from May," Ms Pryde said.
"It will add to the suite of cancer services already available through Stawell Regional Health and will give communities in the Grampians access to this type of treatment at their local hospital for the first time.
"Bookings for the SAROS service are now open and GPs are able to refer their patients to receive treatment in the coming weeks.
"If you or someone close to you has been diagnosed with skin cancer then please talk to your doctor and discuss whether radiotherapy treatment is suitable," she said.
For more information about the new radiotherapy service at Stawell Hospital please contact the Ballarat Austin Radiation Oncology Centre on (03) 5320 8600.