The Gippsland Cancer Care Centre (GCCC) provides comprehensive cancer care incorporating chemotherapy, radiotherapy, specialist consulting and support services.
It officially opened in 2006 and at the time was the only regional cancer service in Victoria with radiotherapy, chemotherapy and consulting rooms.
Since then it has grown substantially with a second radiotherapy bunker commissioned and a second linear accelerator (linac) machine installed.
A $22 million expansion was completed in 2014 which has made provision for a third radiotherapy bunker.
The chemotherapy and dialysis units have been redeveloped and are able to care for more patients in comfortable surroundings.
Treatments for cancer
Different treatments for cancer are used alone or in combination. Most cancers are treated with surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy (radiation treatment). Other treatments, such as hormone therapy, can also be used for some types of cancer.
Your treatment depends on several factors, including:
- the type of cancer you have
- where it began
- whether it has spread to other parts of your body
- your general health and your age
- what treatment option you choose.
What is radiotherapy?
Radiotherapy uses radiation, such as x-rays, gamma rays, electron beams or protons, to kill or damage cancer cells and stop them from growing and multiplying. Radiotherapy damages cancer cells in the area being treated.
Radiotherapy is a highly specialised service. William Buckland Radiotherapy Gippsland (WBRG), which is a satellite service of the Alfred Hospital in Melbourne, provides radiation oncology services as part of the GCCC at Latrobe Regional Hospital.
For further information contact William Buckland Radiotherapy Gippsland on (03) 5173 8770.
What is chemotherapy?
Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to kill or slow the growth of cancer cells. There are many types of chemotherapy drugs, which are often used in different combinations and at different strengths.
Chemotherapy can be administered in a variety of ways. Most people have chemotherapy through a vein (intravenously). It can also be prescribed orally (tablets or capsules), as a cream, or as injections into different parts of the body.
Most people have chemotherapy on an outpatient basis during day visits to the hospital. Some people can have chemotherapy at home if they use a portable pump or have oral chemotherapy.
Travelling to treatment
While treatment schedules can vary for individuals, most people have treatment as outpatients.
If you have to travel a long way to treatment, you may be able to get some financial assistance towards the cost of accommodation or travel. To check your eligibility or to make an application, speak to a hospital social worker or call the Cancer Council Helpline 13 11 20.
The Gippsland Rotary Centenary House Inc is a community owned facility that provides safe, supportive and affordable accommodation to patients/families of the GCCC. Details of Centenary House are available on their website – Gippsland Rotary Centenary House Website
How much does treatment cost?
Chemotherapy drugs are expensive, but most people only have to pay for a fraction of the cost because many drugs are heavily subsidised by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).
There are some drugs that aren't covered by the PBS. You may have to pay for medications to relieve the side effects of chemotherapy (such as anti-nausea drugs).
If you are concerned about this issue please discuss with your treating specialist.
Which health professionals could I see?
Health professionals who care for people having cancer treatment include:
Radiation Oncologist: a specialist doctor who prescribes and coordinates the course of radiotherapy treatment and advises about side effects
Radiation Therapist: plans and delivers the radiation treatments
Radiation Oncology nurses: help you manage side effects that you may experience during treatment
Radiation Physicist: ensures that treatment is delivered accurately and safely
Medical Oncologist: a specialist doctor who prescribes and coordinates the course of chemotherapy treatment and advises about side effects and cancer related issues
Chemotherapy nurses: administer the chemotherapy treatment and help you manage any side effects of treatment
Cancer Care Nurses: coordinate care for patients and families throughout the cancer journey (see below)
Allied health staff: including a dietitian, who will discuss the best eating plan for you, social worker, speech pathologist, physiotherapist and occupational therapist, who can advise you on support services and help you get back to your usual activities.
Multi-Disciplinary Care Team meetings
This is an integrated team approach to health care in which medical and allied health care professionals consider all relevant treatment and care options and develop, collaboratively, an individual treatment plan for each cancer patient presented to the meetings.
Supportive Care Screening
This provides us with an opportunity to identify the kinds of support and information which may be the most helpful for you and your family throughout the cancer journey.
Staff in the GCCC will ask you to complete this form at times throughout your treatment.
Cancer Care Nurses, chemotherapy and radiotherapy staff coordinate a number of group programs for patients and family members. You can expect to learn more about cancer and its treatment in a supportive group environment.
Having an open discussion and some sharing of experiences will help to understand you are not alone on your journey and improve understanding of your changed circumstances.
Living with Cancer Education Program
For people who have a diagnosis of cancer, their family and friends. It's a chance to learn more about cancer, its treatment and your emotional reactions to it.
Living with Cancer Education Program for Cancer Survivors
Many people diagnosed with cancer now live a long time after treatment. The end of treatment may be a time when you realise the impact cancer had on you, your family and friends.
A locally developed informative, comprehensive psychosocial program for women with cancer.
Look Good Feel Better Program
A one-day program helping women face cancer with confidence. Look Good…Feel Better Website
Cancer Care Nurses
The Cancer Care Nurses are part of the Health Independence Program at Latrobe Regional Hospital. These specialist nurses are experienced in managing patients with complex medical and social issues.
They are available to:
- provide education about your cancer, how to recognise problems and what actions to take in certain situations
- provide advice and support with practical, family, emotional and physical issues that arise
- communicate with you and your treating team, including your General Practitioner, and assist with coordinating your care
- monitor your progress for a few months and ensure you have adequate knowledge and support in place for you to best manage your condition and optimise your quality of life.
For further information contact the Health Independence Program on (03) 5173 8506.