by Jim Alouat
CANCER incidents are set to double in Australia within the next two decades, but a program trialled here in Bundaberg may help ease the cancer burden.
Cancer care company Icon Group is launching a new telehealth service throughout Asia after a successful trial run in Bundaberg.
Icon chief Mark Middleton said the Icon Pathways program had cancer care specialists in Brisbane, via telehealth technology, help guide nurses at its Bundaberg Integrated Cancer Centre administer chemotherapy to patients.
Its cancer experts devised an education program complemented with strict policy and protocol.
"Delivering chemotherapy is highly specialised and there is a lot of education involved," Mr Middleton said.
"We trialled our whole Asian strategy between Brisbane and Bundaberg.
"We said 'let's leave the nurses where they are, with their families and patients and bring the education training to them via Icon Pathways'."
Mr Middleton said the program was a tremendous success and now formed the basis for its implementation in Asia, where the cancer burden would pose a significant challenge in the foreseeable future.
"Asia is going to see an increase of cancer cases by up to 70% in the next two decades," he said.
With its aging population, Mr Middleton said Australia would also face a battle against a rise of cancer incidents and making sure regional centres were equipped to help patients was vital.
"The platform and technology is there and we need to embrace it," Mr Middleton said.
"It is an enormous stress on patients to have to travel large distances for cancer treatment."
Phase one of Icon Group's plan, Mr Middleton said, had been to put cancer centres in large regional areas such as Bundaberg and then use those centres as hubs to deliver services to more remote areas.
Mr Middleton said it was well documented that the closer people lived to care the better their outcomes in terms of cancer survival.
"There needs to be a recognition that technology has a role to play and we need to embrace the concept of tele medicine," he said.
"We also we need the private and public health care sector to work together because they can't do it alone."
Mr Middleton said while there was still a lot of work to do in cancer care, the gap between regional areas and cities was narrowing.
"The radiotherapy machine in Bundaberg is equal of any in Australia," he said.