Some cancer patients in Karratha will be able to receive chemotherapy without having to travel to Perth after the Karratha Health Campus became the first site in WA to offer the treatment via telehealth.
The launch of TeleChemotherapy will allow low-risk local patients to speak to specialists in Perth via telehealth while receiving treatment from oncology nurses at the Karratha facility.
If successful, the service could be rolled out to other locations in regional WA, informed by its results in Karratha.
Perth-based oncologist Wei-Sen Lam said TeleChemotherapy would improve the treatment experience of regional cancer patients.
“In some instances, residents of country WA have been required to travel to Perth for specialist treatment,” he said.
“TeleChemotherapy allows patients to be treated closer to home, reducing travel time, stress and time away from their family and support networks.”
Inaugural WA TeleChemotherapy patient and Karratha resident Joanne King said having to travel from Karratha to Perth every three weeks for chemo-therapy had impacted on “every aspect of (her) life”.
“Not having to travel and being able to stay in Karratha while getting treatment, starting the day at home and coming back to my home straight after, is so much better than staying in accommodation,” she said.
According to WA Cancer Registry statistics, 119 people in the Pilbara had been diagnosed with one of the leading types of cancer as of 2014.
Stacey Hambley, chairwoman of cancer support group REACH US Pilbara, said the launch of TeleChemotherapy was an exciting development for cancer patients in the region.
“There have been no cancer treatments previously able to be delivered here in the Pilbara, so the recent announcement of the commencement of telehealth chemotherapy in Karratha is a massive positive step forward for the Pilbara cancer community,” she said.
“For many on their cancer journey, travelling for chemotherapy is often the worst part — you’re away from loved ones, and often the flight home is not a pleasant one with the effects of the treatment kicking in.”
A WA Country Health Service spokeswoman said Karratha Health Campus, which opened last year, had been chosen as the first regional WA site for the service because it had all the necessary equipment to support a chemotherapy centre.