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GALLERY: Hunter cancer patients to benefit from world-class integrated care

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For Mark Hughes, Paterson federal MP Meryl Swanson and Maitland state MP Jenny Aitchison, the official opening of GenesisCare’s integrated cancer care centre and research hub in Maitland meant something special to each of them.

The trio, along with Medowie resident Michael Callaghan, shared their personal stories at Wednesday’s function, which certainly tugged at everyone’s heartstrings.

Local patients, doctors, advocacy groups and politicians came together for the occasion on 2 February, ironically just ahead of World Cancer Day on Friday.

The new facility at Metford provides those needing treatment with contact to seven senior doctors, with more than 75 years’ combined experience throughout the Hunter region.

Patients will also be able to access radiation therapy, medical oncology, advanced imaging, pathology, and allied health services in one convenient location.

The doors first opened in December, in collaboration with leading diagnostic providers, Hunter Imaging and Douglass Hanly Moir Pathology.

And, it boasts the capacity to treat more than 1,500 cancer patients a year.

The centre is home to a highly-advanced linear accelerator, capable of delivering the latest radiation therapy treatment techniques, as well as a high-resolution PET-CT scanner used for cancer detection, monitoring and treatment planning.

Patients will have access to VMAT (Volumetric Modulated Arc Therapy), for non-melanoma skin cancers, including basal cell carcinomas (CCC) and squamous cell carcinomas (SCC), too.

“Our integrated approach to cancer care here in Maitland will ensure locals feel supported throughout all stages of their treatment journey,” GenesisCare radiation oncologist and Maitland site director Associate Professor Peter O’Brien said.

“They’ll be seen by a team of highly-specialised doctors who have deep roots in the community and established relationships with local specialists, advocacy groups and research institutions.

“Our medical experts are also internationally-recognised researchers.

“So, we’re very excited to bring the very best and latest in cancer care innovation to the Maitland community and Hunter region.”

Mr Hughes, the founder of the Mark Hughes Foundation, was blown away by the centre.

“Having grown up in the coal fields and going to high school in Maitland, this region means the world to me,” he said.

“Cancer is a tough diagnosis to process for the patient, family and friends.

“We now have a world-class facility so that we can take on this disease head on in our own backyard.

“We’re able to give it our all, never give up and be surrounded by our families and friends close by.

“This will make a huge difference for so many.”

A cancer survivor herself, Ms Aitchison thanked GenesisCare for investing in critical and much-needed services in the electorate.

“Maitland is the fastest growing community in NSW outside Sydney,” she said.

“We need and deserve access to radiotherapy services – right here in Maitland.

“Transport is a social determinant of health.

“Reducing travel times will ensure patients are more likely to prioritise their health and continue treatment. 

“Having this facility here will spare patients the current arduous daily journey, which can be a two-hour commute, even by car.”

Ms Aitchison was particularly pleased the centre will prioritise research and clinical trials, providing local patients with increased access to leading precision medicine techniques and novel therapies.

“I have long advocated for more clinical research to be undertaken in regional areas like Maitland,” she told the Newcastle Weekly.

“Participation in trials saves lives and improves patients’ outcomes.

“In my own experience, I know that being part of a clinical trial helped me detect my cancer earlier.

“It saved me money, it saved the health system money, but most importantly it gave me options that enabled me to continue working throughout my cancer journey – and to come back stronger.

“I have long advocated for cancer services to be provided in Maitland.

“And, with the fully-public hospital opening just a few weeks ago, the private hospital operating up the road, Maitland is attracting a new level of state-of-the-art expertise in cancer and other health services to our city.

“While we can’t stop cancer, by treating it promptly, by providing wrap around integrated services, we can stop it taking lives. 

“Having this centre here will ensure that people know there is help for them close at hand.

“It will save lives. It will help patients and their families cope with the challenges cancer brings.”

The integrated cancer centre builds on GenesisCare’s services at the Hunter Cancer Centre in Gateshead to offer first-rate diagnostics and treatment closer to home.

Federal Regional Health Minister and former doctor David Gillespie said the new integrated, multi-disciplinary service was a huge step forward for cancer care in Maitland and across the Hunter Valley.

“The federal government is pleased to support this new service for locals by ensuring patients can receive Medicare-subsidised cancer services, so there is one less thing to worry about during their treatment and recovery,” he stated.

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