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Forum to improve regional cancer care

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December 13, 2017

Pictured from left to right, St Vincent’s Hospital speech pathologist Penny Chapman, Yarrawonga Health dietitian Heather McKenna, Yarrawonga Health dietitian Kirsty Coote and Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre dietitian Elise Den.

Local Yarrawonga Health dieticians Penny Chapman and Heather McKenna joined a regional health professionals forum recently at the Albury Wodonga Regional Cancer Centre which focused on improving the treatment of cancer patients in their own communities.

About 30 dietitians and speech pathologists from across the Border and North East attended the workshop focused on the management of patients with head and neck, or upper gastrointestinal, cancers.
The event was funded by donations made to the Albury Wodonga Regional Cancer Centre Trust Fund and included presentations by expert clinicians from Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and St Vincent’s Hospital, Melbourne.
Albury Wodonga Regional Cancer Centre dietitian, Amanda Kiss, said the workshop was about improving the skills and knowledge of dietitians and speech pathologists in treating patients with head and neck cancers.
“Patients treated with radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy to the head and neck area are at particularly high nutritional risk and will often have difficulty swallowing,” she said.
“This workshop is aimed at equipping dietitians and speech pathologists with the high level of expertise needed to be able to provide care to this patient group, who often present with complex issues.”
Ms Kiss said many patients travel considerable distances to and from the Albury Wodonga Regional Cancer Centre for treatment, often on a daily basis for up to six weeks.
 “By providing education to clinicians in the surrounding Hume region, patients will be able to attend their local community centres for therapy during and after their treatment,” she said.
Local Yarrawonga Health Dietician Heather McKenna said for networking alone the event was very good.
“I’ve seen people who I haven’t seen for years and met new people which will help with making referrals and make them aware that they can refer people to us at Yarrawonga Health,” she said.
“The content was great as well. I haven’t done an update in cancer for awhile so it was great to hear from the experts and get to know them, which has been really beneficial for our learning and will help with executing best practice.”

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