Dr Julan Amalaseelan – NCCI

Lismore’s North Coast Cancer Institute is marking ten years of operation in 2020, providing residents of Northern NSW with state-of-the-art cancer care.

Lynne Weir, Director Clinical Operations, said, ‘The North Coast Cancer Institute is an integral part of our health network and the calibre of our staff is second-to-none.

‘Our staff take pride in providing an excellent standard of care to patients, while furthering their knowledge and profession through research and innovation.’

North Coast Cancer Institute (NCCI) staff have featured in peer-reviewed journal publications, local and international conferences, and received international recognition.

The Institute opened in July 2010 at a cost of $27 million, jointly funded by the Commonwealth and NSW governments.

It offers co-located radiation oncology, medical oncology and haematology.

Dr Shreya Armstrong, Deanne Younger, Daniel Lowe, Stephen Manley with Surface Guided Radiation System – NCCI

Fast forward to 2020

In ten years, the Institute has grown to meet the demand for cancer services in the region, providing more than 5100 courses of Radiation Oncology over the decade, and offering patients locally-based expert care.

The NCCI employs more than forty staff, including specialists, nursing, allied health and support staff.

The Institute also receives 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,’ said Lynne Weir.

LINAC installation – NCCI

COVID-safe and high tech

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 explained.

‘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,’ he said.

PDPics – Pixabay

By the numbers

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.

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.