• ‘Game changing’ cancer treatment close to home

    Cancer patients in regional Victoria will no longer have to travel to receive treatment, with the opening of the Mildura Health Icon Cancer Centre.

    Mildura Health Private Hospital CEO, Marcus Guthrie, said some patients had been forced to travel to Bendigo, Melbourne, or Adelaide.

    “Previously, patients often compromised on their treatment if they could not receive it locally, and in some cases chose not to have treatment at all if it meant travelling outside the region,” he said.

    “This is such a significant step forward in the region’s healthcare capabilities and will have an immeasurable impact on cancer patients – not just those in Mildura, but also those in Broken Hill, Swan Hill, and the Riverland.

    “It’s a game-changer.”

    The cancer centre, operating in partnership with Icon Group, will provide chemotherapy treatment in eight private oncology bays, as well as radiation treatment to private and public patients using a linear accelerator. 

    A $4.5 million-dollar state-of-the-art Varian TrueBeam linear accelerator is housed in a specially built radiation bunker at the centre, which will deliver advanced, highly targeted radiation treatments and techniques for local patients. 

    Icon Group chief executive officer, Mark Middleton, said the centre was a much-needed service.

    “With both cancer incidence and mortality in Mildura ranking higher than the Victorian average, we know how important access to cancer treatment is for local communities,” Mr Middleton said. 

    “Investing in the infrastructure that surrounds people’s care and building relationships with local leaders and community groups, backed by experienced clinical teams, provides people facing a cancer diagnosis with a local service they can rely on.

    “We know this will make a significant difference to local patients and their families for many years to come.”

    Mildura Health Icon Cancer Centre opening was attended by: (L to R) Gerard Op de Coul, Mildura Health Fund CEO; Marcus Guthrie, Mildura Health Private Hospital CEO; Dr Anne Webster, Federal Member for Mallee; Mr Liam Wood, Mildura Rural City Council Mayor; Mark Middleton, Icon Group CEO; Dr Andrew See, Icon Radiation Oncologist

    Oncologist Dr Krishna Rachakonda said Mildura’s location had been an issue for treating patients in the past.

    “The sheer isolation of the town causes the biggest challenge because you’re almost 600km from Melbourne which is where our traditional relationship exists,” Dr Rachakonda said.

    “It’s not like Mildura is a small town with a 5,000 or 10,000 population, it’s actually fairly large but quite far away which poses a huge challenge in accessing resources and attracting staff.”

    He added he had seen patients refuse cancer treatment due to the stress and inconvenience of having to leave their home and loved ones for extended periods.

    “It really takes a toll on people when they have to go away to unfamiliar surroundings, particularly a big city,” Dr Rachakonda said.

    “There is a risk that some people may choose not to do it because it’s just too far away, and we have had patients who have declined the option when given the choice.

    “But I think that will all now be set right with the new centre. It’s a well-needed service in this town.”

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