Plans unveiled for Lismore's cancer unit

THE new cancer care centre planned for Lismore Base Hospital will meet the needs of most patients and attract more specialists to the area, according to doctors.

To be opened by March 2010, the centre forms stage two of the hospital's redevelopment.

The details of the facility, which will feature a radiation-oncology unit, were revealed at a briefing night for the medical community on Thursday.

Cancer specialist Tom Shakespeare, of the North Coast Cancer Institute, said the facilities built into the centre would mean most cancer patients would no longer have to make the tiring journey to the Gold Coast or Brisbane.

The cancer care centre would form part of a larger, integrated cancer care system, linking with other units at Port Macquarie and Coffs Harbour, he said.

"This is a perfect way for us to deliver cancer services at a local level," Associate Professor Shakespeare said. "It will be world class. There's no question about it."

Although the unit provided the 'vast majority' of what the community needed, there were some notable absences when it came to more specialised services, including bracheotherapy and paediatric treatments.

However, Assoc Prof Shakespeare said the current design of the centre would form a backbone to develop these more specialised services.

North Coast Area Health Service chief executive Chris Crawford said the $27m unit would be built on the current Richmond Clinic site.

Stage one of the hospital's redevelopment, the mental health facility, was nearly complete, he said.

"Richmond Clinic will be vacated and demolished in July," he said.

"We will begin to build the new cancer centre once that process is completed."

He said the cancer care unit would feature a linear accelerator, used to treat deeper, more severe forms of cancer, and room would also be made for a second device to be installed down the track.

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