MORE cancer patients will be able to remain close to loved ones during treatment when the new Bendigo Cancer Centre opens early next year.
Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre has signed on to continue delivering radiotherapy services in Bendigo for another five years at the new centre, which will see Bendigo Health’s two radiotherapy bunkers eventually grow to four, with scope for further expansion as demand increases into the future.
More chemotherapy chairs will also be available in the new centre, which will bring all cancer services under the one roof.
“The intention clearly is to increase intervention rates for our patients right across the Loddon Mallee region, and give them the best chance of survival possible,” Bendigo Health chief executive officer John Mulder said.
“And we’ll certainly do that with this massive improvement in the quality of the facilities, but also just sheer capacity.”
Mr Mulder said the new centre would be about double the size of current cancer treatment infrastructure and facilities.
Bendigo West MP Maree Edwards told the Bendigo Advertiser the new centre was “absolutely necessary” for the region, ensuring more cancer patients and their families would not have to suffer the added stress of travel when undergoing treatment, having had personal experience with the issue.
“My late husband died from cancer, and when he was having his treatment he had to spend a very, very long time in Melbourne, away from the family that he loved, and that was very difficult,” Ms Edwards said.
“So I have a good understanding of how important this new cancer centre is for regional cancer patients, their families and their carers.”
Peter Mac CEO Dale Fisher said the centre would better integrate cancer services in the region, bringing together Peter Mac’s staff with Bendigo Health’s oncology team.
“We’re going to use Peter Mac’s expertise, Bendigo Health’s expertise, and come together, housed within this wonderful new facility, to improve cancer care for the local community,” Ms Fisher said.
As part of the new agreement, Peter Mac has also provided funding to Bendigo Health to tackle tobacco-related cancers through prevention initiatives.
A director for the centre will be appointed in the coming months.
The new agreement between Bendigo Health and Peter Mac continues a long-running partnership between the two healthcare providers.
The cancer centre will also deliver treatment in a more comfortable environment, designed to reduce anxiety through access to natural light and fresh air.