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Patient stories / 11 Sep, 2019

Advanced radiation therapy technique now benefiting Cairns community

Icon Writers

Icon patient Linda first in Cairns to receive stereotactic radiation therapy treatment

Icon Cancer Centre Cairns is now delivering stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) treatment, an advanced technique used to treat small well-defined lung tumours, including tumours that have spread from a primary cancer. The centre, located within Cairns Hospital, is the first oncology care provider in Cairns to offer this precision treatment technique, saving local patients from having to travel long distances to access care, or down to Brisbane.

Local cancer patient 65-year-old Linda Cargill was first diagnosed with lung cancer earlier this year after going to the GP for emphysema. Scans showed a small tumour in her right lung that would require radiation therapy treatment. Within days, Linda was able to receive stereotactic radiation therapy at Icon Cancer Centre Cairns.

The tumour on Linda’s right lung is very small, which means radiation therapy treatment is a suitable option. However, as the tumour is so small, a special technique is recommended. Stereotactic radiation therapy delivers pinpoint precision radiation to individual tumours, ensuring safe and effective treatment directly to the tumour, while minimising radiation dose to surrounding healthy organs and tissue. Linda was the first patient at Icon Cancer Centre Cairns to receive this new treatment technique and has had four sessions of radiation on her right lung.

“I’ve had four treatments across two weeks with no side effects. I’m only at the centre for about 40 minutes each time. Just knowing I am getting a treatment that has a good chance at killing my cancer is a relief,” Mrs Cargill said.

Previously, people were required to travel to Brisbane to receive this comparable care. For Linda, being able to receive this treatment close to home has made a significant difference.

“The fact that we didn’t have to travel out of Cairns was an absolute lifesaver. It would have meant leaving home for two whole weeks and the cost of that would have been much too expensive. We live with our daughter at the moment, so it’s been very important for us to have family close by.”

Linda and her husband Roger, who was diagnosed with salivary gland cancer just after Linda, look forward to enjoying their retirement without the stress of cancer hanging over them. However, for now they know that they can get through it all together.

“There was an initial shock, but your mind is put at ease as you go along. We woke up today and life isn’t all that different,” Roger said.

For Linda, accessing the best possible care has made all the difference.

“To anyone with cancer, I would say go and try these treatments. If it can destroy the cancer now rather than later – what a great life you have in front of you.”

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