Ballarat hospitals among the best for cancer surgery

COMPLEX cancer surgery outcomes at Ballarat Health Services Base Hospital and St John of God Hospital have achieved results comparable to larger hospitals in Australia, Europe and the United States, surgeons have heard.

BHS registrar Dr Jayson Moloney, who made the findings, presented them at the Provincial Surgeons of Australia Conference earlier this month in Mt Gambier.

Dr Moloney said he hoped it would stimulate further discussion on the capacity of regional hospitals to provide complex surgery.

He examined the results of a type of surgery called the “whipple operation” in which part, or all, of the pancreas is removed, usually with sections of stomach and small intestine.

He said conventional thinking was that surgery such as the whipple operation should be carried out at larger hospitals where the procedure was performed many times each year.

But much of the medical literature covering surgery, such as a whipple operation, includes only data from larger hospitals.

Dr Moloney’s research covered a decade of data from the two Ballarat hospitals and examined the effectiveness of the cancer removal, patient mortality rate after 30 days and patient survival rates five years post-surgery.

“The number of patients who died in the 30 days following surgery was below the Victorian average and the percentage of patients who survived five years after surgery was comparable to other hospitals.”

Dr Moloney said the findings reflected well on the expertise of the surgeons, the quality of decision-making around when or whether to carry out the surgery and the effectiveness of post-operative care.

Dr Moloney plans to combine Ballarat’s figures with those of Geelong Hospital in order to obtain a more statistically significant picture of surgical outcomes in regional hospitals.

rachel.afflick@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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