Targeting time saving

NEW cutting-edge technology is fighting cancer with highly accurate, targeted radiotherapy doses for Ballarat patients.

Stereotactic Ablative Body Radiotherapy is tackling small lung tumours  in Ballarat Austin Radiation Oncology Centre, which is part of Ballarat Regional Integrated Cancer Centre.

The difference for patients is three to four treatments in a fortnight, compared to 30 sessions in a prolonged period for standard radiotherapy.

It also means fewer side effects and little dose to neighbouring healthy tissue.

BAROC consultant radiation oncologist Simone Reeves said access to treatment in Ballarat would make a big impact for patients who previously had to be sent to Melbourne for SABR.

“We’ve treated a couple of people so far for positive feedback,” Dr Reeves said.

“This treatment can particularly help if you can’t have surgery, like older patients for example, because it’s too risky.

“I think a lot of patients had forgone treatment because it was too hard to get to Melbourne or have so many treatments.

“They’re getting it here now in three to four treatments and it’s a lot less disruptive to their lives.”

Bringing SABR to Ballarat has been a two-year work-in-progress for Ballarat Health Services in its partnership with Austin Health.

Dr Reeves, who led the SABR development in Ballarat, said it involved significant teamwork across medical oncologists, physicists, nurses, doctors and therapists.

Specialised equipment was bought via a philanthropic donation to BAROC.

Dr Reeves said it then took a lot of background and preparatory work to ensure machines were ready to be used for treatment.

A full treatment takes about 45 minutes, with lots of double-checking due to the highly precise nature of work.

Amphitheatre’s Michael Mattox was one of the first patients to have SABR at BRICC.

“Apart from feeling a bit tired in the evening, on the day of treatment, I’ve not had after-effects and feel fighting fit,” Mr Mattox said.

Dr Reeves said SABR was fast becoming a leading treatment for many cancers, including those difficult to successfully treat.

The Ballarat team plans to expand its SABR program to treat tumours in other parts of the body.