As we reach the prime of our life, the chances that we experience cancer, either ourselves or through someone we know, is a reality. Statistically, one in two Australian men and one in three Australian women will be diagnosed with cancer by age 85. The death rate from cancer is, however, declining thanks to advances in drugs, technology and better health screening.
Radiation therapy is a vital part of treatment in around 40% of patients cured of cancer, and one in two people will benefit from radiation therapy during their illness. Radiation therapy is safe and may be used alone or in conjunction with surgery, chemotherapy and other treatments. It is usually non-invasive, and hospital stays are not normally required. In fact, many people continue to work or carry out their daily activities during treatment.
Genesis CancerCare is Australia’s leading provider of radiation oncology services. Timely and easy access to oncology services is important which is why Genesis CancerCare provides three treatment centres across greater Perth and one in Bunbury. Genesis CancerCare’s consulting specialists also conduct rural clinics in Albany, Busselton and Geraldton. Should patients need to come to Perth for treatment, fully subsidised accommodation is available to eligible patients at Genesis CancerCare Lodge. Accommodation is also available for patients undergoing treatment in Bunbury.
New Radiation Therapy Technology
The technology used in radiation oncology is constantly evolving. Recent advances are resulting in higher cure rates, fewer side effects, shorter treatments and improved quality of life. New techniques include:
Deep Inspiration Breath Hold (DIBH)
Modern radiation therapy for breast cancer is well-proven and has low side-effects. In some patients with left-sided breast cancer, however, it has the potential to cause cardiac damage in the years following treatment because the radiation beam may touch the heart. While radiation oncologists use various methods to minimise this already low risk, DIBH reduces the risk even further. Patients simply take in a deep breath and hold it during treatment. Inflating the lungs creates a natural space between the heart and the breast. When this space is at its greatest, radiation is delivered, reducing the heart’s risk of radiation exposure.
Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy (SBRT)
New technology can now provide three-dimensional images of tumours allowing radiation oncologists to shape the radiation beams around the tumour. By doing so, damage to adjacent organs is limited. SBRT uses this technology to treat, for example, some smaller (less than 5cm) lung cancers, and increasing data shows that SBRT may be a comparable option to surgery in selected patients. Patients that may not be suitable for surgery, such as the very elderly or those with other medical problems, can often be treated with SBRT. It is also non-invasive and has few treatment complications. Perth Radiation Oncology was one of the first treatment centres in Australia, and the first in Western Australia, to implement this technique.
Radiation therapy is also being used to combat many other tumour types, including testicular, prostate, and skin, as well as a range of non-cancerous conditions, such as severe keloid scars or plantar fibromatosis.
(Chemotherapy, targeted therapies, biological drugs.)
New and highly sophisticated drugs are also emerging in the fight against different tumours. In recent years, significant advances in drug development have seen new drugs emerge for melanoma, a specific type of breast cancer called HER2-positive, lung and prostate cancers. Many of these newer drugs target a specific defect in the cancer cell, while others harness the body’s own immune system to help ‘turn off’ the cancer.
World-renowned research into the benefit of exercise as cancer medicine is also ongoing and patients attending Shenton House in Joondalup can elect to participate in an on-site and personalised exercise program under the supervision of exercise physiologists from ECU’s Exercise Medicine Research Institute.
For rapid access to world-class cancer care: Phone: 1300 977 062
Private health insurance is not required for consultation or radiation treatment at Perth Radiation Oncology in Wembley or Shenton House in Joondalup.