December 10, 2023

‘It’s incredible’: Christchurch hospital gives hope to cancer patients with new world-leading treatment

Watch: St George's Hospital in Christchurch is giving hope to cancer patients who might otherwise be in palliative care.

St George’s Hospital in Christchurch is giving hope to cancer patients who might otherwise be in palliative care.

The world-leading cancer treatment can target previously untreatable cancers, particularly in soft tissue, like the pancreas and prostate.

It is where hope lies for the many Kiwis facing a previously unwinnable fight with cancer.

“We’ll be able to treat cancers that until now haven’t been able to be treated with radiation treatment such as some complex pancreatic tumours that before we’ve just had to send for palliative care,” St George’s Cancer Care Centre clinical director and oncologist Dr Brendon Anderson said.

It’s a first for New Zealand, and only the 100th in the world.

Making world-leading treatment available and accessible to cancer patients like Chris Roberts who is being treated for prostate cancer.

“Traditional radiation treatment in the past relied on CT scans and CT scans are great at looking at bones or looking at the lungs but they don’t give such definition of soft tissues and when you look at it, most of the body is made up of soft tissue,” Dr Anderson said.

This machine delivers pinpoint treatment.

“So we’ll be able to treat with much tighter margins,” Dr Anderson said.

“Really targeting an individual’s tumour, rather than targeting a whole organ perhaps.”

That means less collateral damage to ‘normal’ tissue and can greatly reduce the length of therapy.

Roberts had just five sessions, over a week.

“I think it’s incredible,” he said. 

“I mean I’m self-employed so the other options were surgery which would’ve had me out of work and out of pocket for six-eight weeks.”

The recently installed technology isn’t only attracting those in need of treatment – but also those hoping to provide it.

“This means that we can retain expertise in New Zealand. People want to come and work here – in fact, people are flying from overseas to come and work here,” Dr Anderson said.

“It’s really seen as a big win for Canterbury, a big win for Christchurch and a big win for New Zealand.”

And most of all, a big win for patients.

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