Top 10 historical events of Peter Mac

Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre Major milestones in the evolution of care for cancer patients. From its modest beginnings, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre is now one of the world’s leading cancer research, education and treatment centres globally. Many of the major developments along the way were made possible through the generous support of the Victorian community

27 April 1949

The Cancer Institute is established with a budget of 30,000 pounds and one room at the former Queen Victoria Hospital on William Street, Melbourne. The clinical arm opens 12 months later and is called “Peter MacCallum Clinic”. Today Peter Mac treats more than 31,000 public and private patients, including 10,000+ new patients each year.


The Visiting Nurses Service commenced, enabling cancer patients to remain at home and be cared for daily by a nurse. By the mid-1970s nearly 800 visits were made each week. Peter Mac still provides home-based care and chemotherapy treatment for patients through its Peter [email protected] service.


Medical staff, radiographers and support teams start to travel to cancer clinics in Geelong, Bendigo, Hobart and Launceston – an early example of Peter Mac’s commitment to cancer care and outreach. Today, Peter Mac centres in Bendigo, Box Hill, Moorabbin and Sunshine also provide high quality radiation therapy services closer to home for thousands of cancer patients across our community.


The hospital’s 4 million volt linear accelerator is introduced – one the first of its kind in Australia. It offers a major advancement in the treatment of tumours lying deep within the body. Today, Peter Mac provides more than 110,000 radiation therapy treatments per year.


The Chemotherapy Day Ward is established bringing together specially trained staff to administer chemotherapy to out-patients, vastly improving access to this mode of treatment. Today, Peter Mac provides almost 12,000 chemotherapy treatments per year.


Peter MacCallum Cancer Institute relocates to St Andrews Place, East Melbourne forming Victoria’s first comprehensive cancer centre. This was made possible through generous grants and community donations, including through the Peter Mac Cup which is still contested each year between Collingwood and Carlton. Professor Joseph Sambrook was recruited as Director of Research and Professor Lester Peters AM was recruited as Head of the Department of Radiation Oncology. Both were internationally renowned world-leaders in their fields, specifically recruited to confirm Peter Mac’s increasing reputation as a cancer centre of global standing.


A Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scanner was introduced providing a unique ability to detect, characterise, assess, monitor and determine the best treatments for cancer in ways often not possible through conventional imaging techniques. The PET team conducted over 600 scans in its first year - one of the highest numbers in the world at that time. By 2015, more than 8,000 scans were completed helping to progress more precise and personalised cancer treatments for patients.


Peter Mac’s long-time ‘multi-disciplinary’ approach to care is formalised in the establishment of specialised teams centred on specific types of cancer. Each week, clinicians from a range of disciplines, researchers and support staff meet formally to discuss individual patients and agree the best approach to treatment and care.


Robotic assisted surgery was introduced – the first of its kind available to public patients in Victoria and funded through generous philanthropic support. The new technology further enhances the most advanced keyhole surgery theatres in Australia which, together, vastly improve surgery and recovery time, pain management and outcomes for patients.


Peter Mac continues to combine care and compassion with the latest research to provide better treatments, better care and cures for people impacted by cancer. For the first time, this care will be matched by world-class facilities at its new home within the $1.1bn, state-of-the-art Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre building.