Radiation therapy manager Dr Stephen Manley and specialist radiation oncologist Dr Patrick Dwyer from the North Coast Cancer Institute in Lismore.
Radiation therapy manager Dr Stephen Manley and specialist radiation oncologist Dr Patrick Dwyer from the North Coast Cancer Institute in Lismore. Luke Mortimer

Conference improves coast’s cancer care

CANCER patients were cited as the real winners of this year's North Coast Cancer Conference.

About 150 healthcare professionals from across the region attended the conference at The Byron at Byron Resort and Spa, Byron Bay, on Friday and Saturday.

The event, hosted by the North Coast Cancer Institute in Lismore, aimed to improve knowledge of head and neck cancer patient care with a multi-disciplinary treatment approach.

Cancer Institute specialist radiation oncologist Dr Patrick Dwyer, 33 and radiation therapy manager Dr Stephen Manley, 43, both said the event was about ensuring regional treatment was cohesive and effective.

"It's a great opportunity from an education perspective, but also for peer networking and to build that collegiate feeling, so that patients in this region get the best outcomes because all the various clinicians know a bit more about what's going on," Dr Manley said.

"This will be one of the most highly attended conferences we've had... each year has just grown and grown.

"Clinicians here are building quite a good reputation for quality of service, certainly since radiation therapy has been here over the last four years the professional medical network is building."

Dr Dwyer said the conference was important because "from a professional view it updates everyone on the North and Mid North Coast about developments in local services".

"These can be both medical, surgical, allied health and nursing," he said.

"At the North Coast Cancer Institute we very frequently interface with each other via tele and video conferencing, but we get together every year for the face-to-face version, because networking and team building is very important in the region to improve overall care of the patient."

"We're hearing a lot about improvement in treatment techniques that improve both cure rates and quality of life for patients."

Interstate presenters at the conference were Dr Matthew Foote, from Princess Alexandria Hospital in Brisbane and Dr Dimitri Nikolarakos, from Gold Coast Hospital, who spoke about radiotherapy and surgical techniques

Local presenters included the director of cancer services Mid North Coast associate professor Tom Shakespeare, Northern NSW local health district's director of radiation oncology at the Cancer Institute Dr James Bull, general practitioner Dr Andrew Binns and Dr Ken Marr from Palliative Care, as well as local allied health team speakers. Various sponsors, such as Pfizer, Roche and Sirtex were also running a range of stalls to keep conference attendees informed about the latest drugs and technology available for cancer treatment.


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