Private radiation therapy a first for central New Zealand

Published: 30 Jan 2018

The development of a radiation oncology facility at Bowen Icon Cancer Centre in Wellington is set to get underway early this year. Located at Bowen Hospital in Crofton Downs in the north-west of the city, this development will deliver the first private radiation therapy offering in the region.

The Bowen Icon Cancer Centre, developed via a partnership between Acurity Health Group and specialist cancer care provider Icon Group, opened its doors to patients in July 2017. Currently delivering private day oncology services, the addition of radiation oncology will offer patients the full spectrum of cancer care under the one roof.

Dr Richard Grenfell, director of Acurity Health Group, says patients currently must travel to Auckland or Christchurch for private radiation treatment.

“Making radiation oncology available gives patients greater choice in directing their care, helps ease pressure on the public system and ensures continuity of care for those patients having both chemotherapy and radiation,” says Dr Grenfell.

“New cancer treatment infrastructure is essential to address the increasing incidence of cancer in New Zealand, where we have around 63 new cases registered every day and 9,000 deaths a year.”

The centre will include the latest in radiation oncology technology – a Varian True Beam Linear Accelerator worth over $3 million. The state-of-the-art system can deliver stereotactic radiation therapy, which uses external beam radiation to target usually small and well-defined tumours with pronounced accuracy.

“By using precise three-dimensional imaging and the highly advanced True Beam platform, stereotactic radiation allows for larger amounts of radiation to enter the body in a shorter timeframe. The capability of the machine will mean patients are treated quicker and their tumour is targeted with extreme precision, which minimises radiation to other tissue and organs.That is something every cancer patient deserves,” Icon Group CEO, Mark Middleton.

The Bowen Icon Cancer Centre offers private patients the opportunity to choose their own oncologist and gain access to non-PHARMAC therapies, with no waitlist for consultation and day oncology treatment. The centre currently treats around 120 patients a month, with patients coming from Wellington and as far afield as the Hawkes Bay.

“We see private cancer care as playing an important role in supporting the public service in New Zealand, broadening the treatment options available for patients. Every patient’s cancer treatment journey is different and it’s important they have choices to meet those needs,” says Dr Grenfell.

Acurity Health Group has lodged a Resource Consent application with Wellington City Council to construct two radiation bunkers. Subject to approval of the Resource Consent application, radiation oncology is expected to be available at Bowen Icon Cancer Centre by the close of 2018.