Monday, June 24, 2024

St George’s Cancer Care Centre expands services to Dunedin and Queenstown


People seeking cancer treatment through St George’s Cancer Care Centre, based in Christchurch, will now have access to a radiation oncologist in Dunedin and a medical oncologist in Queenstown.

Dr Tivanka Senanayake is working in Dunedin, and Dr Jim Edwards in Queenstown, to offer people living in these regions who’ve been diagnosed with cancer, the chance to see one of the private hospital’s oncologists closer to home. This initiative has been welcomed as being much less stressful than patients having to travel more frequently for their appointments.

Dr Senanayake says, “The Cancer Care Centre receives referrals from across the South Island which can mean a lot of travel for some patients to Christchurch. By having me based in Dunedin, we can now offer patients in the area access to pre and post treatment appointments.”

“Patients from Southland, or around Otago will need to be referred by a healthcare professional for an appointment, then we can discuss their treatment plan. However, they will still need to travel to Christchurch to receive radiation.

Dr Senanayake is working full time for the Cancer Care Centre and will be based in Dunedin three days a week, and two days at the Centre in Christchurch where he will begin to treat patients with its new radiation machine – an MR linear accelerator (MR Linac).

St George’s Cancer Care Centre is also holding monthly clinics in Queenstown and Wanaka with Medical Oncologist Dr Jim Edwards. This is all part of the Centre’s vision to improve pre and post cancer treatment access to patients across the South Island.

“We are providing world class care closer to home. It’s all about bringing this top line care to the patient, and that means to regional areas outside of Christchurch,” Dr Edwards says.

“The travel for patients can be a lot during this stressful time in their life, and even a video consultation isn’t the same as face-to-face when dealing with distressing conversations.”

Dr Edwards, who has worked for the Cancer Care Centre for more than a decade, says he’s hoping the service in Queenstown can expand to regular clinics in the future.

The Centre’s new radiation machine, the MR Linac, is being used in the treatment of soft tissue cancers and is the only one of its kind in the country, and the 100th in the world to be sold. Patients will have access to this treatment in Christchurch.

More detailed, real-time MR Linac imaging means higher doses of radiation treatments can be given with greater precision. This means less risk of radiation affecting surrounding healthy tissue, which can cause side effects. It also means fewer treatments are required – so patients need less time off work or away from home and family. This can be the difference between five treatments over 10 days, instead of 20 treatments over four weeks.

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