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New skin cancer service officially opens

3 September 2019

Austin Health and Stawell Regional Health officially opened the new Stawell Austin Radiation Oncology Service (SAROS) at Stawell Hospital today.

Austin Health's Acting CEO, Shelley Castree-Croad, said the service has been operating since late May and is using radiation therapy to treat patients with skin cancer.

"The service uses the latest superficial x-ray therapy to treat skin cancer and other non-cancerous skin conditions, and can save patients the need to go through surgery," she said.

"Cancerous or damaged skin cells are more sensitive to radiation and are destroyed by the treatment which is painless, non-invasive and provided at no cost to public patients."

"The service has received crucial support from the Victorian Government which provided $250 000 in funding to allow the purchase of radiation therapy equipment," Shelley said.

Ararat resident, Judith Lawrence, is one of the first patients to be treated by the service.

"I was lucky really. First my hairdresser noticed that I had a sore behind my ear that was starting to bleed, the Doctor did a biopsy and referred me to a Dermatologist, but I could not afford that," Judith said.

"Then almost straight away Dr Gorman rang me to tell me about a brand new program at Stawell with no waiting list and no cost. I am very grateful to everyone at Stawell, they were really lovely," she said.

Stawell Regional Health's CEO, Libby Fifis, said Judith would previously have had to travel to Ballarat to receive the same care she was able to receive locally at Stawell Hospital.

"The SAROS service is expanding the range of cancer services available at Stawell Regional Health and helping us to make the best possible care available to patients living in the Grampians and surrounding regions," Libby said.

"Patients have not had access to radiation therapy in their local area before now and we hope this new service not only improves their health outcomes but also makes it makes it much easier for the community to access this type of treatment."

The Minster for Health, Jenny Mikakos, said: "We have delivered state-of-the-art radiotherapy equipment for Stawell locals because we understand how important it is to be able to access world class cancer care, close to home.

"Stawell patients can now access high-quality skin radiotherapy treatment, without the cost of expensive travel and time away from work and loved ones.

"This region's first comprehensive skin cancer service is open and already making a real difference for locals who are getting the care they need close to home," Minister Mikakos said.

For more information about the Stawell Austin Radiation Oncology Service or to make an appointment please contact the Ballarat Austin Radiation Oncology Centre on (03) 5320 8600.

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