ACT News

New cancer treatment radiation centre to open at University of Canberra

A new state of the art cancer centre in Canberra's north will be able to treat an extra 800 patients a year when it opens at the University of Canberra.

Icon Cancer Care will invest $15 million to install two linear accelerators in the private facility after it was given the OK by the federal government and a $4 million grant to replace the radiation machines at the end of their 10-year lifespan.

University of Canberra vice-chancellor Stephen Parker and Icon Cancer Care chief executive officer Mark Middleton ...
University of Canberra vice-chancellor Stephen Parker and Icon Cancer Care chief executive officer Mark Middleton announced a new cancer centre for the campus on Thursday. Photo: Supplied

At Thursday's announcement, Icon's chief executive officer Mark Middleton said existing radiation services in Canberra were "stretched" and the UC facility would offer patient's choice in the private system to complement the existing public service as well as providing research and training opportunities.

"Geographically it's located very well with the existing public service and it means people who may live over this side of Canberra have more access," he said.

"As an organisation we're very active in clinical trials for both radiation oncology and medical oncology.

"Part of our service is to provide people access to clinical trials… [to] drive patient outcomes and the adoption of new technology and improved treatments."

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The ACT government did not commit funds to the project, but had been "very supportive" in lobbying for the centre, Mr Middleton said.

Canberra Hospital's $48 million cancer centre offering screening, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and research and teaching programs opened in August 2014.

The Radiation Oncology Centre will be built between the university's health hub and $139 million public hospital on Ginninderra Drive and will also offer training and research opportunities for staff and students.

The centre, to be opened by late 2017, will include two concrete radiotherapy bunkers with linear accelerators as well as a medical oncology department operated by Icon.

"Each of those machines can treat up to 400 new courses of radiation therapy each year, so our centre will have capacity to treat 800 new cancer patients each year," Mr Middleton said.

The university's vice-chancellor Stephen Parker said, as part of the campus' "bustling health precinct", the centre would provide exciting opportunities for students, particularly those embarking on a new medical radiation science – medical imaging degree beginning this semester.

"We've got an initial intake of 20 students, by the time this facility is finished we'll have other programs coming online and then the students will have adequate placement opportunities right here on campus," he said.

"We are working on a whole range of medical and allied health and professional services which will really position the university as one of the great health providers of education in this country."

He said the new centre was particularly important as demand grew with an ageing population.

Work on the university's new public hospital, expected to open in 2018, would begin next month, Professor Parker said.