Preparation works for the installation of a new, state-of-the-art radiation therapy machine at Austin Health's Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness & Research Centre (ONJ Centre) started this week.
The first of its kind in Victoria, the MRI-Linac machine will use superior diagnostic-quality imaging to target tumours in real time, with greater precision and with minimal damage to surrounding tissue.
Our Divisional Director of Cancer and Neuroscience, Cherie Cheshire, said once it was installed, the ONJ Centre would be the state-wide provider for this type of advanced radiation therapy.
"Traditional radiotherapy treatment uses a linear accelerator to kill or damage tumours and stop them growing. Still images of the tumour are taken before treatment and used to help plan and guide the direction of the radiation beam.
"The MRI-Linac combines both a linear accelerator and an MRI scanner, which can display real-time images of internal organs and tissues. The machine can monitor the movement of tumour locations caused by breathing, swallowing, and other normal body movements during treatment.
"Tumours can be treated with greater accuracy and the technology also has the potential to reduce side effects and improve cancer treatment outcomes as a result," says Cherie.
Major construction works will occur between mid-September and mid-November.
These works will involve excavating near the large oak tree at the front of the ONJ building - an important feature often referred to as the ‘Tree of Life' by patients and staff.
A qualified arborist has been engaged to provide input into the planning of the works and monitor the health of the tree during the excavation process.
The project will then involve drilling through a concrete bunker to create an opening for the machine, which will arrive in early January 2020.
There will be minimal impact on cancer treatment services and wellness programs at the ONJ Centre during the installation process and the machine is expected to be operational by mid-2020.