New cancer centre brings treatment close to home

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When mother of three Nikki McAteer was diagnosed with rectal cancer last month, it brought back memories of her own mother’s battle with cancer.

“I lost my mum to breast cancer when I was only 23,” she said.

“When I think back to that time, she had to travel hours to go to her appointments for treatment, which must have been draining physically and mentally and ultimately had an impact on her time with us.”

But thanks to a new state-of-the-art facility opened late last week in Rockingham, Western Australia, Mrs McAteer, 29, will be able to undergo her treatment close to home.

“I feel so lucky that all my care is based here in Rockingham, with everything I need within a 15-minute drive,” she said.

“It means I can still drop the kids off at school, have my treatment, continue working and be here with my family.”

The new Icon Cancer Centre, opened by West Australian Premier Mark McGowan, will bring all aspects of cancer treatment under one roof, from chemotherapy to radiation therapy, treatment for blood disorders and PET-CT services.

Icon Group, Australia’s largest dedicated cancer care provider and the company behind the development, has opened the centre in Rockingham to further their mission to bring the best cancer care and technologies to people outside of metropolitan areas.

“Comprehensive cancer care plays an important role in best practice cancer treatment,” Icon Group CEO Mark Middleton said.

“We’re proud to offer a single, unified team of local clinicians who work together to ensure every step of the patient’s experience is timely, seamless and exceptional.

“We are bringing the latest treatment technology to this region, the likes of which you will see in state-of-the-art facilities across the world and we believe this will make a huge difference to local patients and their families for many years to come.”

People fighting cancer often require treatment for many months and, if they live outside a metropolitan area, have to travel long distances while undergoing treatment. This can have an enormous impact, not only on the patient, but the patient’s loved ones. The new centre will ensure local people affected by cancer can now receive comprehensive care close to home.

The site includes a 15-chair private day oncology with the capacity to deliver more than 11,000 chemotherapy and blood disorder treatments annually; as well as one linear accelerator, the machine that delivers radiation therapy treatment that will have the capacity to deliver 9,000 radiation therapy treatments every year.

The centre also has the capacity for an additional linear accelerator to treat more people into the future. Patients do not require private health insurance to receive radiation therapy treatments, with up to 80 – 90 percent of costs reimbursed by Medicare. Alongside this, the centre offers chemotherapy and treatment for blood disorders for privately insured patients with no gap on private in-patient treatments.

Up to 1173 Rockingham residents are currently living with cancer. This number is expected to increase by 70 percent before 2030 due to increased incidence of cancer, the local population increasing at double the national rate and an ageing population. The local community’s access to treatment options such as a local radiation oncology-based cancer centre will be important in meeting this need.

One of the radiation therapy bunkers in the Icon Cancer Centre is named in honour of Professor Barry Marshall, renowned Western Australian-born gastroenterologist who is a Nobel Prize winner and has made significant contributions to healthcare.

The site also has access to allied health services, free parking and no wait list for treatment or consultation.

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