Lismore’s North Coast Cancer Institute is marking 10 years of operation this year, providing residents in Northern NSW with state-of-the-art cancer care.
The building opened in July 2010 at a cost of $27 million, jointly funded by the Commonwealth and NSW governments, to offer co-located radiation oncology, medical oncology and haematology.
Fast forward to 2020, and the centre has grown to meet the demand for cancer services in the region, providing more than 5100 courses of Radiation Oncology over the decade, offering patients locally-based expert care and employing more than 40 staff including specialists, nursing, allied health and support staff.
“The North Coast Cancer Institute is an integral part of our health network and the calibre of our staff is second-to-none,” Lynne Weir, Director Clinical Operations, said.
“Our staff take pride in providing an excellent standard of care to patients, while furthering their knowledge and profession through research and innovation. Our staff have featured in peer-reviewed journal publications, local and international conferences, and received international recognition.”
The NCCI staff receive support from an army of volunteers who are dedicated to improving patients’ experience of care and journey through cancer diagnosis and treatment.
“From the Cancer Council of NSW, to palliative care volunteers, Delta therapy dogs, local charity organisations, church groups, Rotary clubs, sporting events, individual community members, and many more, we are incredibly fortunate to have so many dedicated volunteers giving their time and efforts to help others,” Ms Weir said.
This year, to keep staff and patients safe during the pandemic, the team at NCCI have implemented a range of measures to minimise risk of COVID-19 transmission, including rotating team members in separate work cohorts.
A new Surface Guided Radiation Therapy system was installed in July, with NCCI being the first cancer treatment centre in NSW to have this technology.
Radiation Oncologist, Dr Julan Amalaseelan, said the new system was a great advancement from usual methods.
“It uses a combination of projected light and cameras to provide a three-dimensional image of the patient’s body surface, instead of using ionising radiation as other imaging methods do,” Dr Amalaseelan said.
“When we use the surface guided camera during a patient’s radiotherapy treatment, we can measure breathing cycles and improve positioning, which reduces radiation to critical parts of the body, such as the heart, when treating early stage breast cancer.”
The most common cancers treated at NCCI are breast, prostate, lung and skin cancer, with more than 60% of patients being from the local area, including Lismore, Alstonville, Casino and Ballina.
In 2021, almost 2,550 people in Northern NSW are expected to be told they have cancer, which equates to around seven new diagnoses every day.*
* NSW Cancer Registry 2015. Population data is sourced from NSW Ministry of Health Secure Analytics for Population Health Research and Intelligence (SAPHaRI), based on 2011 Census.