Increased cancer treatment capacity at the Canberra Hospital

Released 21/08/2012

ACT Chief Minister and Minister for Health, Katy Gallagher MLA today launched new equipment that will deliver a 20 percent increase in the Canberra Hospital's capacity to deliver life-saving cancer treatment.

A linear accelerator (Linac) is a device used for external beam radiation treatments for patients with cancer. It delivers high-energy x-rays direct to the region of the patient's tumour. These x-ray treatments are designed in such a way that they destroy the cancer cells while sparing the surrounding tissue. Today's event marks the increase from two machines in 2006 to four in 2012.

"Cancer is a burden for many people in our community and I am pleased these new facility will provide a further boost to our health system. Cancer patients will now be provided with access to the latest advances in technology for treatment," the Chief Minister said.

"The additional technologies available with the new and replacement linear accelerators will provide improved quality of treatment. This increase in capacity will help Capital Region Cancer Service continue to work towards meeting the increased demand for cancer treatment in the ACT and its surrounding region."

The newest linear accelerator will increase treatment capacity at the CRCS Radiation Oncology department by around 20 percent. Its 'stereotactic radio surgery' functionality will improve treatment of small isolated brain lesions and will be further developed in the future for application to small isolated tumours in other regions of the body.

In 2006 the 'Major Radiation Oncology Equipment Strategy and Linear Accelerator Procurement Feasibility Plan identified that future demand for Radiation Oncology services, would require a four Linac service within the Radiation Oncology Department instead of two by 2012. The fourth Linac was commissioned and released for clinical use in January 2012.

"The dedication of staff within the Radiation Oncology Department and also staff from the wider Health Directorate, have made this project possible," the Chief Minister said.

"The ACT Government and Health Directorate have worked together with the Commonwealth Government to plan and commit funding and resources to achieve this goal.

The Radiation Oncology Department have also recruited an additional 12 full time staff including Radiation Therapists, Radiation Oncology Medical Physicists, a Radiation Oncologists Doctors and a Registered Nurse.

"These new staff will provide a workforce to operate the increase in treatment resources, assisting in meeting the growing demand for radiotherapy services," the Chief Minister concluded. 

- Statement ends -

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