Cancer care queue cut

Holly ThompsonSound Telegraph
Mitchell Wilhelm, Quynh Nguyen, Joan Higgins and Dr Eve Tiong at the Icon Cancer Centre in Rockingham.
Camera IconMitchell Wilhelm, Quynh Nguyen, Joan Higgins and Dr Eve Tiong at the Icon Cancer Centre in Rockingham. Credit: Holly Thompson

The wait time to access cancer care in WA is much higher than the national average, but one small centre in Rockingham has helped reduce this time for its patients.

Australian Institute for Health and Welfare research showed most cancer patients in WA had to wait up to 33 days to start radiotherapy treatment, compared to the national average of 26 days.

According to the research, this is a major contributing factor to one of the State’s biggest health burdens.

Icon Cancer Centre Rockingham is working towards reducing this burden and has cut the wait time for radiation therapy by 90 per cent, delivering care to patients within three days.

For Safety Bay resident Joan Higgins, starting treatment at the centre was life-changing after she was diagnosed with stage two lung cancer in April.

“It got to five months after my diagnosis, I was seeing different people and they were all lovely but it takes it out of you and you are worrying the whole time about what is going to happen,” she said.

“They could not remove the cancer during surgery because it had gone into my chest cavity so my doctor sent me to the radiation and chemotherapy specialists at Fiona Stanley.

“From there I was asked if I wanted to go to Mandurah, but that is a similar distance to travel, it was the next doctor who asked me if I wanted to go to Rockingham.

“I rang Icon Cancer Centre and I was in within the week, have been coming every day since for six weeks and then to the hospital once a week for the chemotherapy.”

Doctor Eve Tiong said the team worked together to make sure the patients were seen as quickly as possible.

“For patients such as Joan, we know it is important to start treatment in a timely manner,” she said.

“We operate on the philosophy that whenever the patients needs, we see them and we strive to maintain that, even when we are busy.”

Mrs Higgins has now completed her treatment.

“Getting in so quick and having such a great team look after me has just made the world of difference,” she said.

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