Stawell cancer services to expand

BALLARAT Regional Integrated Cancer Centre will expand its services at Stawell in the new year.

Radiation oncologists will travel alongside medical oncologists servicing Stawell from February.

Cancer centre director Arrin Wislang said patients receiving radiation treatment would be able to have their initial and follow-up appointments closer to home.

Having radiation oncologists visit Stawell would not eliminate the need to stay away from home for the six to eight week treatment.

“Many people don’t realise radiation has to be delivered daily from Monday to Friday,” Mr Wislang said.

For Wimmera residents, travelling to Ballarat every weekday for a 15-minute treatment is not feasible.

“But after that treatment phase, patients will need to go back to a specialist periodically for a follow-up,” Mr Wislang said.

“Once the services are based at Stawell, they can do their follow-up there.

“A huge number of our patients were coming to Ballarat just for follow-up appointments.”

He said the benefits for the patient would be obvious.

“Cancer can affect anyone, but it does tend to affect people as they age,” Mr Wislang said.

“The average age of our patients is over 60.

“In terms of people coming to us for their treatment, we’re talking about an ageing population who find it difficult to travel.”

Palliative care physicians will also be based at Stawell, from February.

“A fantastic service already exists, running out of Ararat and Horsham,” Mr Wislang said.

“We’ll just be expanding it. For cancer patients, palliative care doesn’t mean you’re terminal.”

He said palliative care specialists were especially knowledgeable about pain management.

“Their work load is about 80 to 85 per cent oncology,” Mr Wislang said.

“It will be a good service to have alongside radiation and medical oncology specialists.”

The cancer centre also started offering chemotherapy treatments in Stawell last month.

“We have pulled together a whole lot of services into a single centre,” Mr Wislang said.

“Often cancer patients will rarely see one health professional.”

He said once a new building at Stawell Hospital was built, he hoped more patients would be able to access Ballarat Regional Integrated Cancer Centre outreach services.

“Stawell is our first regional outreach centre,” he said. 

“We are looking at expansion options.

“This is only the beginning of our regional presence.”

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