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Townsville Cancer Centre

Townsville Cancer Centre 2015

Townsville Cancer Centre (TCC) is a tertiary regional cancer centre in North Queensland; providing comprehensive and multidisciplinary cancer services including Haematology and Bone Marrow transplantation, Medical Oncology, Palliative Care, Radiation Oncology,  Radiation Therapy and nursing and Allied Health services.  Research and training are integrated into core business in partnership with James Cook University, Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine and other universities.

One of our goals is to contribute to closing the gap in clinical outcomes that exist between rural and Indigenous patients and their urban counterparts.  We have been providing specialist cancer services closer to home for rural, remote and Indigenous communities using telehealth technologies, under the umbrella of the Townsville Hospital and Health Service. 

Medical Oncology

The department of medical oncology within the Townsville Cancer Centre specializes in anti-cancer medications, chemotherapy, biological and targeted therapy in the management of solid tumours.

Staffed by five medical oncologists, our department integrates clinical trials, research and undergraduate (College of Medicine and Dentistry, James Cook University) and post graduate medical education and training as part of service delivery.  Our advanced training program, as part of the state-wide Medical Oncology training network is accredited for core training by the Royal Australian College of Physicians.  We provide specialist cancer services closer to home for rural, remote and Indigenous communities in our region using telehealth technologies, under the umbrella of the Townsville Teleoncology Network.

Staff Specialists

A/Prof Sabe SabesanBMBS, FRACP, PhDAssociate Professor
Dr Abhishek JoshiMBBS, DM, FRACPSenior Lecturer
Dr Zulfiquer OttyMBBS, MRCP, FRACPSenior Lecturer
Dr Suresh VarmaMBBS, DM, FRACPSenior Lecturer
Dr Corinne RyanMBBS, BAppliSci, FRACPSenior Lecturer

Referral and contact details

 Phone +61 7 4433 1671
 Facsimile +61 7 4433 1621
 Postal AddressMedical Oncology
IMB 56
The Townsville Hospital
PO Box 670

Appointments can be made by using the above mailing address, fax number or by phoning +61 7 4433 1697.


The Townsville Cancer Centre
East Wing of the Townsville Hospital
100 Angus Smith Drive

Urgent clinical queries

During office hours, by phoning +61 7 4433 1671 or the switch board +61 7 4433 1111 and asking for the Medical Oncologist on call (24 hours per day)

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Radiation Oncology

The department of Radiation Oncology is equipped with state-of-the-art equipment. We have five linear accelerators, a superficial radiotherapy unit andtownsville radiation therapy reception a high dose rate brachytherapy afterloader.  There is a CT simulator equipped with 4-dimensional technology to accurately account for respiratory motion of tumours, as well as a conventional simulator with fluoroscopy and cone beam CT capability.  PET scan and MRI are done within the hospital and can be co-registered with the planning CT to aid with accurate tumour definition.

We are capable of treating patients with conventional, intensity-modulated, volumetric-modulated and stereotactic radiotherapy to the brain and body which enables us to offer the full gamut of treatment options to patients in North and West Queensland, reducing their need to travel to Brisbane.

Our department is staffed by 6 radiation oncologists, with sub-site interests as listed below:

Dr Susan Hewitt (Director)Breast, Lymphoma, Gynaecological Cancers
Dr Sean BrennanBreast, Lymphoma, Head and Neck, Skin, Neurology (including stereotactic cranial treatments)
Dr Michael CollinsHead and Neck, Lung, Skin, Neurology, Sarcoma
Dr Peter FonUrology, Gastrointestinal, Thyroid, Gynaecological, Skin Cancers
Dr Madhavi ChilkuriHead and Neck, Upper Gastrointestinal, Sarcoma
Dr Alex TanUrology, Lung, Gastrointestinal, Stereotactic body radiotherapy (lung, spine)

Referral and contact details

 Phone+61 7 4433 1663
 Facsimile+61 7 4433 1621
 Postal Address

Radiation Oncology
Townsville Cancer Centre
The Townsville Hospital
IMB 56
PO Box 670


Townsville Cancer Centre Radiation Oncology
The Townsville Cancer Centre
East Wing of the Townsville Hospital
100 Angus Smith Drive

Urgent clinical queriesDuring office hours, by phoning +61 7 4433 1663 or the switch board +61 7 4433 1111 and asking for the Radiation Oncologist on call (24 hours per day)

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Radiation Therapy

Radiation Therapy (RT) is provided at the newly expanded Townsville Cancer Centre located within The Townsville Hospital.  Radiation Therapy is the use of high energy X-rays to treat cancer. It works by damaging the DNA of cells, preventing cancer cells from being able to repair themselves and invade healthy tissue.

Radiation Therapists are involved in the simulation, dosimetry planning, treatment and overall care of patients receiving Radiation Therapy treatment.  Simulation is the process of obtaining the required data to complete the treatment planning process.  This involves determining the optimal position to treat the patient in, often with the use of immobilization devices to keep the patient still. A CT scan is then performed of the treatment area.

Dosimetry is where a patients treatment plan is created.  Working in conjunction with Radiation Oncologists, Radiation Therapists design and tailor the radiation beam to deliver the maximum dose to the tumour volume without damaging the surrounding tissue.

Treatment is conducted with the use of Linear Accelerators. Radiation Therapists use these state-of-the-art machines to deliver daily treatments with sub-millimeter accuracy. All Linear Accelerators are named after Islands. Currently we have: Daydream, Orpheus, Pelorus, Hayman and Mornington operational. The next Linac to be installed will be Lindeman.

Along with the simulation, planning and treatment of cancer patients, Radiation Therapists regularly conduct research, leading or participating in studies at a local, national or international level.  They are also involved with the testing and implementation of new technologies, working in conjunction with international companies.  Radiation Therapy provides the opportunity to become a specialist in a desired area while still maintaining competency in all others.

Elekta machine Townsville Cancer Centre
Radiation therapy equipment

Precise treatment system
Radiation therapy equipment

The best contact number for Radiation Therapy is +61 7 4433 1663.

Aniko CooperDirector Radiation Therapy
Scott CooperPlanning Resource Senior
Chris QuinnTreatment Resource Senior
Michaela ThomasRT Educator

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Clinical Haematology and Bone Marrow Transplant

Overview The Department of Clinical Haematology and Bone Marrow Transplantation (BMT) provide a tertiary level service, which has National Association of Testing Authority (NATA) accreditation, encompassing the following areas:

  • Malignant haematology (all leukaemia, lymphoma & myeloma)
  • Autologous Peripheral Blood Stem Cell & Bone Marrow transplantation
  • Related Donor Allogeneic Peripheral Blood Stem Cell & Bone Marrow transplantation
  • Apheresis Program
  • Clinical trials – both national & international
  • Benign haematological disorders
  • Blood transfusion
  • Haemophilia care

The Department of Clinical Haematology and BMT has the following facilities:

  • Ambulatory Day Therapy Unit & Consulting Suites
  • Haematology and BMT in-patient ward
  • Clinical Trials Unit
  • Stem Cell Laboratory
  • Leukaemia Foundation accommodation units (within the hospital grounds)

Our team

Medical Staff

  • Director of Clinical Haematology and BMT – Dr Ian Irving
  • Consultant Clinical Haematologist/Transplant Physicians x 3
  • Dr Hock Choong Lai
  • Dr Edward Morris
  • Dr Georgina Hodges
  • Advanced Trainee Registrar (Haematology) – Clinical Rotation
  • Advanced Trainee Registrar (Haematology) – Laboratory Rotation
  • Rotating Basic Trainee Registrar
  • Haematology and BMT Resident
  • Haematology and BMT Intern

Nursing Staff

  • Nurse Unit Manager – Haematology Oncology Inpatients
  • Nurse Unit Manager – Ambulatory Oncology
  • Clinical Nurse Consultant - Haematology Oncology Inpatients
  • Clinical Nurse Consultant – Bone Marrow Transplant
  • Clinical Nurse Consultant – Ambulatory Oncology
  • Clinical Nurse Educator
  • Nurse Manger – Clinical Trials Unit
  • Cancer Care Coordinators
  • Registered Nursing staff – including Clinical Nurses & Registered Nurses
  • Enrolled Nursing Staff & Students In Nursing

Allied Services

  • Data Management
  • Clinical Laboratory Scientists (Stem Cell Specialist)
  • Psychologist
  • Physiotherapist
  • Social Worker
  • Dietician
  • Occupational and Physical Therapists
  • Indigenous Liaison Officer
  • Office Staff, Departmental Secretary
  • Liaison with Leukaemia Foundation

Referral process


Department of Clinical Haematology and BMT
The Townsville Cancer Centre
100 Angus Smith Drive  

 Phone - all inquiries +61 7 4433 1628 or Switchboard  on +61 7 4433 1111 and ask for the “Consultant Haematologist on call" (24 hours per day)
 Facsimile+61 7 4433 4101
 Postal AddressDepartment of Clinical Haematology and BMT
Townsville Cancer Centre
The Townsville Hospital
IMB 56
PO Box 670
 Urgent clinical queries phone

Haematology and BMT +61 7 4433 1628 (office hours)
Switchboard (The Townsville Hospital) on +61 7 4433 1111 and ask for the “Consultant Haematologist on call" (24 hours per day)

Referrals to the Department of Clinical Haematology and Bone Marrow Transplantation can be made by letter or facsimile.  Referrals should be addressed to doctors Irving/Lai/Morris/Hodges (Consultant Haematologists)

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Palliative Care

The Palliative Care Centre encompasses a Palliative Care Inpatient ward, and an Outreach Community Palliative Care Service.  Both are located in the Palliative Care Centre building of the Townsville Hospital, south of the main acute building.

The Townsville Palliative Care Service has been developed to provide specialist palliative care and support for patients and families dealing with a life-ending illness. The service consists of an inpatient unit, an outreach team, a consultative service for inpatients in other areas of The Townsville Hospital and support for patients across the Townsville HHS. The Service is delivered by an interdisciplinary team so as to meet the diverse physical, social, psychological and spiritual needs of palliative care patients and their families in the Townsville HHS area.  Some patients are still receiving disease modifying treatment, but the goal of the treatment is palliative rather than curative in its intent.

The Palliative Care Centre has a contract in place with Bluecare to provide domiciliary palliative care services to patients living in the community.  Medical equipment is provided for dying patients in the community through a contract with Condor Healthcare.  The Palliative Care Service provides extensive support to health workers across tropical Queensland in support of their efforts to provide palliative care to their patients. It has primary responsibility for specialist services in the Townsville HHS but provides advice and educational support for communities in other Hospital and Health Services as necessary on request.

The model of care utilized by the service is:

  • Direct care: within the designated inpatient unit;
  • Shared care: with other medical teams; and
  • Consultation/liaison with other health care providers.

Through these models of care the Palliative Care Service provides:

  • Palliative care for patients with life ending illnesses;
  • Advice on or for palliative care management; and
  • Services to support the delivery of palliative care in the community.

The Palliative Care Centre is a Level 6 within the Clinical Services Capability Framework and the service is a Specialist Palliative Care Service Resource Level 3.

Dr Will Cairns OAM,BA MBBS FRACGP FAChPMDirector
Dr Ofra FriedMBBS BA MPH FAChPMStaff Specialist
Dr Richard Corkill

MBBS MRCP BSc Cert Ed Dip Pall Med FAChPM

Staff Specialist

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Medical Radiation Physics

Medical Physics is a branch of applied physics which employs physical concepts for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of human disease. It is not a new discipline; it is only in recent times emerging as a highly recognizable and valued area in medicine.  Since the discovery of X-rays by Roentgen in 1895 and Bacquerel’s discovery of radioactivity in 1898, medical physics has been a catalyst in the development of modern medicine.

Radiation Oncology Medical Physicists (ROMPs) work with physicians, Radiation therapists, nurses and engineers in the delivery of radiotherapy for the treatment of cancer. ROMPs are involved in clinical consultancy, treatment delivery and verification, quality assurance and latest technology evaluation.

Whilst applicable and the responsibility of each specialty, Radiation Safety can be a separate role within itself. All other professionals rely on the medical physicist for radiation safety matters, advice and policy.

The first step in the pathway is getting a good foundation Undergraduate degree majoring in Physical Sciences and featuring a strong math basis. After undergraduate study, becoming a Registrar in the Training Education and Assessment program (TEAP) is the next step. The TEAP includes completing a University postgraduate degree in medical Physics along with clinical placement.

For more information contact - Director Radiation Physics

Louis Fourie+61 7 4433 1043
Timothy Crabtree+61 7 4433 1042

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Allied Health

Various allied health disciplines provide their services to our patients in collaboration with multidisciplinary team members caring for patient with all types of cancers.
Research and education are integrated as part of core business of many disciplines. Several allied health professionals contribute to the state-wide allied health cancer care clinicians’ reference group in order to provide care across the state in a standardized manner.
Telehealth models are utilized to provide care closer to homes for our rural and Indigenous patients and to offer advice and support for rural health professionals. Townsville Cancer Centre provides comprehensive allied health services. Allied health staff work in collaboration with multidisciplinary team members caring for patients with all types of cancers, and include:

  • Dietitians
  • Occupational therapists
  • Pharmacists
  • Physiotherapists
  • Psychologist
  • Social workers
  • Speech pathologists

A variety of services and specialist clinics are provided for cancer care patients prior to and during treatment, as well as throughout survivorship. For further information on specific services, please refer to discipline specific information on The Townsville Hospital website.

Allied health outpatient services are available during weekday business hours. Referrals are accepted from medical, nursing and other allied health staff, as well as from general practitioners. Referrals can be made in person, via direct phone contact, or through completion of a referral form
Research and education are integrated as part of core business of many disciplines. Allied health professionals contribute to state-wide cancer care groups to facilitate standardized care across the state.

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Townsville Teleoncology Network

Townsville Teleoncology Network was established in order to provide specialist cancer services closer to home for rural, remote and Indigenous patients who face disparity in access to cancer services close to home and in clinical outcomes compared to their urban counterparts.

Various telehealth based clinical, education and supervision models have been developed and implemented in the fields of haematology and bone marrow transplantation, medical and radiation oncology, palliative care, nursing and allied health. Projects to conduct research and evaluation of these teleoncology models are undertaken and published under the umbrella of the Tropical Centre for Telehealth Practice and Research, in collaboration with the Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine.

Contact:Teleoncology Co-ordinator +61 7 4433 3641  Fax: +61 7 4433 1621

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Clinical trials

Our mission is to continue to explore and implement innovative models of care for rural patients participating in studies, incorporating the emergence of Telehealth in the setting of clinical trials.  Clinical trials are offered to our patients as part of progressive treatment programs within the Townsville Cancer Centre.   We participate in a considerable number of international, multi-centre group and industry sponsored phase II and III clinical trials.  In the last five years we have taken part in close to 100 clinical trials with groups and industry sponsors including but not limited to ALLG, TROG, ANZGOG, ANZBCTG, AGITG and ANZUP.

Our team consists of:

  • Medical Oncologists, Haematologists, Radiation Oncologists and Palliative Care physicians
  • Clinical Trials Nurse Unit Manager
  • Clinical Research Coordinators (Clinical Nurses and Radiation Therapists)

Referrals to a clinical trial can be made directly to the specialist or via a number of multidisciplinary tumour stream meetings.

Contact numbers for Clinical Trail Study Coordinators are

Medical  Oncology+61 7 4433 3548+61 7 4433 4214
Haematology+61 7 4433 3220+61 7 4433 4135
Radiation+61 7 4433 4281 

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Education and training

Townsville Cancer Centre (TCC) is affiliated with James Cook University and other universities for the provision of undergraduate training for medical, nursing, allied health and physics students. Various selective and elective placements are offered as part of undergraduate program.

Medical and radiation oncology, haematology and palliative care specialties participate in local and state-wide training programs for basic and advanced training.

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We participate in multinational and multi-centre clinical trials in

  • medical and radiation oncology
  • haematology
  • bone marrow transplantation and palliative care

to offer cutting edge cancer therapy and care plans for our patients.

Other Townsville Cancer Centre projects focus on clinical research and quality improvement activities to generate new knowledge about patient care, monitor the quality of care provided, and to share findings via publications and presentations.

Link to Townsville HHS Ethics and Research Govenance

Link to Nursing Research - Tropical Health Research Unit for Nursing and Midwifery Practice (THRU)

Link to Townsville HHS Library 

Link to  Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine.

Link to Tropical Centre for Telehealth Practice and Research

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Townsville Cancer Centre Nursing education

At TCC we have a variety of educational programs coordinated by the Oncology Nurse Educator and supported by a variety of team members from nursing, medical and allied health.

This is an overview of education provided

  • ADAC (Antineoplastic Drug Administration Course) Australia – wide recognized education program
  • Oncology GELS (Generic Essential Life Support) co-coordinated with the Townsville Skills Centre for simulated emergency training
  • QCEP (Queensland Cancer Education Program) State-wide academic and clinical cancer nursing program run internally over a twelve month period rotating throughout all oncology areas (Radiation Oncology, Oncology Day Unit, Oncology Ward, Palliative Care)

Clinical Nurse education days

  • Structured mandatory competency training coordinated by the Clinical Nurse Consultants in each area
  • Access to online Introduction to Radiation Oncology modules via eviQ (Cancer Treatments Online)
  • Involvement in the First Year of Practice Nursing program


  • Oncology Skills day for Nurses (for all of Townsville HHS nurses)
  • Introduction to Oncology Seminar for all streams (for all of Townsville HHS)
  • Introduction to Palliative Care for Nurses Seminar (for all of Townsville HHS and community nursing settings, e.g. aged care homes and community services (Blue Care)

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Last updated: 1 March 2017

Townsville Cancer Centre +61 7 4433 1111