Icon Group, Australia’s largest dedicated provider of cancer care has strong foundations in the delivery of regional cancer care. In 2007, the group’s radiation oncology business brought cancer services to Toowoomba, helping ease the burden of travel for patients across the Darling Downs region.
This commitment to regional care was shortly extended into Cairns, and in 2018 Icon furthered its regional dedication opening a comprehensive Icon Cancer Centre in Mackay delivering all aspects of care including radiation therapy, chemotherapy, treatment for blood disorders and on-site pharmacy.
Previously the Mackay community would have to travel long distances to receive radiation therapy treatment. This would mean several weeks away from their family and friends. Endless travel can be both emotionally and physically draining, and this sense of isolation can have an effect on quality of life and impact a patient’s overall treatment experience.
Today patients in Mackay and surrounding regions can remain close to home and be surrounded by loved ones while accessing the same level of cancer treatment found in metropolitan cities.
Improving access is key to improving healthcare in regional communities with research indicating that patients are 10% less likely to receive radiation therapy for every 100 kilometres they are from a treatment centre.
Furthermore, a recent Garvan Research Foundation report indicated that the further a patient lives from a major city the more likely they are to die within five years of diagnosis. These sobering statistics indicate there is a growing need to introduce world-class cancer centres across regional Australia.
Since opening, the Icon Cancer Centre has saved people over 770,000 kilometres in travel, which is equivalent to a trip to the moon and back. That time saved equates to more time spent laughing with family and friends, being part of your children’s milestones, having a shoulder to cry on and precious time spent in the comfort of familiar surroundings, all while knowing your care team are on your doorstep through each stage of your treatment.
The Icon Cancer Centre in Mackay is equipped with the latest in radiation therapy technology including a Varian TrueBeam linear accelerator which has the capacity to deliver 9,000 radiation therapy treatments annually to public and private patients. The machine is also equipped to deliver cutting-edge techniques such as Deep Inspiration Breath Hold (DIBH), reducing the potential impact of radiation on the heart for the benefit of left-sided breast cancer patients, and stereotactic radiation therapy an advanced technique that uses high doses of radiation to precisely treat small tumours with well-defined edges.
The site also has a well-established telehealth service which has been specifically tailored to cater for the needs of a regional radiation therapy centre.
Icon is also equipped with unique remote capabilities to support regional care. The group’s medical physics team can support Icon centres nationally, efficiently resolving any technical problems without the need to be onsite, and a dedicated remote radiation therapy arm run by some of the nation’s most experienced radiation therapists can deliver advanced radiation therapy plans for patients at any Icon centre.
This bespoke function can be particularly beneficial when centres are at full resource capacity or require a higher level of clinical expertise for more complex cases.
Icon regional teams also build long-term relationships with local advocacy groups, provide ongoing education sessions utilising our global network, support local events and welcome community feedback. Playing an active role in the community is an integral part of understanding the local landscape and the delivery of exceptional regional care.
Icon places patients at the centre of everything they do and believe in a simple but focussed mission — to deliver the best care possible, to as many people as possible, as close to home as possible. For regional areas like Mackay, the introduction of Icon services has improved the overall healthcare outcomes of the community and will continue to do so for future generations to come.