CANCER patients from Horsham to Bacchus Marsh will have an easier ride to treatment in Ballarat after the latest, special Male Bag delivery.
The foundation, with AFL identity David Parkin as patron, has arrived with a red Nissan X-TRAIL for ferrying patients to and from Ballarat Health Services Base Hospital for treatment.
This comes three years after Male Bag donated Ballarat the first transperineal grid prostate biopsy system to an Australian public hospital - costing the worth of a luxury vehicle.
Grampians prostate care nurse Gay Corbett said parking costs alone could be toxic for cancer patients, let alone the time and financial stresses on family and friends to drive patients to treatment.
"If someone is unwell, they need to be driven everyday but this means a patient can stay home and be transported here and back home by a volunteer driver who has the time to help," Ms Corbett said. "Regionally, this takes the stress off family and partners to being responsible to drive to the hospital."
Ms Corbett said the vehicle transport would not be limited to prostate cancer patients and was a great complementary service to wellness programs on offer at Ballarat Regional Integrated Cancer Centre, where patients could wait between treatments.
Male Bag has raised money to help deliver the less-invasive transperineal biopsy machines to Warrnambool, Gippsland and Bendigo with funding made last week to Wagga, Griffith and Dubbo.
Geelong, which has a new $3 million robot to assist urology treatment, still sends men to Ballarat for the procedure. Ms Corbett is preparing to get her motorbike licence to take part in a three-day Male Bag ride, on the iconic postie bikes, to help raise money and awareness for the biopsy machine in Geelong later this year.
Ballarat urologist Lachlan Dodds said BHS has made 800 prostate biopsies in men with the machine the past three years. Dr Dodds said this has saved an estimated 150 bed days for the hospital when taking into account about three per cent of men need some intensive care after a traditional biopsy.
The transperineal biopsy machine in Ballarat also allows urologist to use SpaceOAR, which Dr Dodds said lifts the prostate away from the rectum during radiotherapy. This means, unlike most Australian patients, there are less side-effects and discomfort to the rectum - and this machine was the only one with the gear to use this technique.
Retired Ballarat businessman Peter Stevens said help with patient transport, to reach such an important machine, had long been a key missing element. His family, after selling their car dealership, provided funding via Male Bag Foundation to make the vehicle a reality.
Mr Stevens said Nissan X-TRAIL fit hospital requirements for patient transport but was also the highest-selling SUV in the world.