A new Victorian service was today launched at Melbourne’s Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre to provide non-invasive, precision radiosurgery for people with brain tumours.

The Gamma Knife delivers life-changing treatments to parts of the brain that were previously considered off limits to even the most skilled surgeons.

This machine is the first of its kind to be installed in Victoria, and only the third in Australia.

The $8 million Victorian Gamma Knife Service was equally co-funded by the Victorian Government and through generous donations to the Peter MacCallum Cancer Foundation. 

Dr Claire Phillips speaks to media during the launch
Dr Claire Phillips speaks to media during the launch

Department of Radiation Oncology Deputy Director, and lead clinician for the Victorian Gamma Knife Service at Peter Mac, Dr Claire Phillips, said the Gamma Knife was used to precisely target and treat tumours, vascular malformations and other brain abnormalities - with minimal effect on healthy tissue. It can also provide relief from conditions such as epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease.

“In just one Gamma Knife session we can precisely target and treat one, or multiple, tumours – we don’t usually need to use anaesthesia and patients can go home straight afterwards,” Dr Phillips said. “The treatment, called stereotactic radiosurgery, is completely non-invasive.” 

The first patients are expected to be treated using the Gamma Knife from February next year, with the Victorian Gamma Knife Service expected to treat up to 500 patients per year.

Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre Chief Executive Dr Shelley Dolan thanked the Victorian Government and several generous donors who co-funded the purchase and installation of the Gamma Knife.

“Your vision and generosity have made this possible and will directly improve the lives of hundreds of Victorians.” Dr Dolan said.

“Our patients deserve the very best care and the addition of the Gamma Knife to the array of world-class cancer treatments available here at Peter Mac is a very important milestone.” 

Installing Peter Mac’s Gamma Knife was a significant undertaking – requiring the removal of about 9.5 tonnes of concrete and the addition of about a further 90 tonnes to install the large machine in the basement-level radiotherapy bunker. Footage of the installation is available for media.

For more information contact Peter Mac Communications on 0417 123 048.

About Peter Mac

Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre is a world leading cancer research, education and treatment centre and Australia’s only health service solely dedicated to caring for people affected by cancer. We have over 3,200 staff, including more than 700 laboratory and clinical researchers, all focused on providing better treatments, better care and potential cures for cancer.