Radiotherapy (or radiation therapy) is a treatment that uses radiation, such as high energy x-rays, electron and gamma rays to damage and kill tumour cells. It is a safe and effective treatment for many types of cancer and certain non-cancerous conditions. See Radiation Oncology Targeting Cancer for more information.

Public radiotherapy is provided at no cost to Medicare-eligible patients. This includes medical appointments, treatment and supportive care services required as part of treatment.  Patients may incur costs related to certain prescription medications associated with treatment, car parking and accommodation.

Statewide radiotherapy services

Public statewide radiotherapy services have been established in Victoria to ensure equitable access to the latest radiation therapy treatment equipment for all cancer patients within the state, irrespective of where they reside. A document which outlines the principles and key elements of statewide radiotherapy services has been developed and can be found on Statewide radiotherapy services framework page. The Statewide radiotherapy services framework is intended to guide the present and future development of these specialist radiotherapy services.

The first of these statewide radiotherapy services to be established are the Victorian Gamma Knife Service and the Victorian MR-Linac Service, both of which are unique radiotherapy treatment machines. These specialised radiotherapy treatment machines are for all Victorians whose cancer (or in some cases, non-cancer) would most benefit from treatment on this new equipment.

The services are available to all Victorians, regardless of where they live or which local health service, they would otherwise have received treatment. The Victorian Patient Travel Assistance Scheme (VPTAS) covers some of the travel and accommodation costs for rural Victorians when accessing specialist medical treatment, see VPTAS for further information around eligibility.

Not every cancer type or non-malignant tumour will benefit from treatment on these new machines. A team of clinical experts have determined those that will most benefit for the different types of treatment machines. Please speak to your GP or specialist to arrange a referral to these services.

Gamma Knife

Specialised radiation treatment machineA specialised radiation treatment machine designed to treat a range of brain tumours and other neurological conditions deep in the brain (targets).

The treatment is called stereotactic radiosurgery however, it is not actually a knife and there is no operation. Treatment is delivered using fine beams of radiation, precisely targeted to the tumour or area in the brain.

This machine is located at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre - Melbourne campus. To find out more Peter Mac - Gamma Knife.

See the referral form

Photo credit HiVis Pictures

Clinical indications

Not every cancer type or non-malignant tumour will benefit from these new machines. For this reason, all patients considered for Gamma Knife Stereotactic radiosurgery will be discussed by a team of expert doctors in a Victorian state-wide multidisciplinary meeting.

A team of clinical experts have determined those that will most benefit from the Gamma Knife treatment machine.

These include:

  • Vestibular Schwannoma (also known as Acoustic Neuroma)
  • Meningioma
  • Pituitary tumours
  • Trigeminal neuralgia
  • Multiple brain metastases (secondary cancer in the brain)

Complete list of clinical conditions that may benefit from treatment on the Gamma Knife.

Clinical indications

MR-linac

MR-linacA treatment machine that combine two technologies – an MR scanner and a linear accelerator.

The machine takes MR images of the patient immediately before treatment and are used to ensure the accurate positioning of treatment.

MR images are particularly useful for visualisation of structures in certain anatomical regions such as in the abdomen or the spinal cord.

This machine is located at the Olivia Newtown-John Cancer, Wellness and Research Centre at Austin Health in Heidelberg. To find out more about the MR-linac ONJCC radiation therapy

The MR-linac is scheduled to start treatments in late July 2021.

See the MR-linac referral form 

Clinical indications

Not every cancer type or non-malignant tumour will benefit from these new machines. For this reason, all patients considered for treatment on the MR-linac will be discussed by a team of expert doctors in a Victorian state-wide multidisciplinary meeting.

A team of clinical experts have determined those that will most benefit from the MR-Linac treatment machine.

These include:

  • Oligometastases (a small number of secondary cancers formed in one or two parts of the body) surrounded by critical organs that will limit the radiation dose.
  • Locally advanced pancreatic cancer surrounded by critical organs that will limit the radiation dose.
  • Liver metastases (secondary cancer in the liver).
  • Primary liver carcinoma and cholangiocarcinoma.
  • Re-treatment of head and neck tumors with radiotherapy.
  • Primary prostate cancer not suitable for fiducials.

Complete list of clinical conditions that may benefit from treatment on the MR-linac.

Clinical indications

Referral process

A referral to a public statewide radiation oncology service must be completed by a GP or specialist medical practitioner

  • Gather all available information about the patient including any completed tests
  • Click referral form button below to link to appropriate radiotherapy service

Please ensure the referral form is complete as possible to support timely triaging

  • The referral will then be assessed by the clinical team at the health service
  • The specialist service team will then communicate with the patient and referrer.
 Gamma Knife
MR-Linac
 Referral form
Referral form

Victorian public radiotherapy services

Linear accelerator machineRadiotherapy using linear accelerator treatment machines is available at all of the above locations. Specialised equipment and treatment techniques including MR-linac, Gamma Knife, stereotactic ablative radiotherapy (SABR/SBRT), brachytherapy, total body irradiation and superficial treatment machines for skin treatments are available at certain services.

For referral to a public radiation oncology service please contact your GP or medical practitioner.

An example of the linear accelerator treatment machine, which provides radiotherapy treatment at the service locations listed above.

State-wide services are provided as a partnership between the Victorian Department of Health and the Victorian public radiation therapy services

Andrew Love Cancer Centre at Barwon Health
Alfred Health Radiation Oncology at Alfred Health
Radiation Oncology Services at Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre     
Olivia Newtown-John Cancer Wellness and Research Centre at Austin Health 

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