For two years the Kathleen Kilgour Centre has been delivering radiotherapy treatment to Bay of Plenty cancer patients and has already treated more than 1500 people.

It is also one of only two centres in New Zealand offering the Active Breathing Co-ordinator (ABC) system for breast cancer patients.

The Kathleen Kilgour Centre (KKC) was established in partnership with the Bay of Plenty DHB and offers radiation oncology treatment to patients who previously had to travel to Waikato Hospital in Hamilton for treatment.

''Having a facility in the Bay of Plenty allows many patients to receive treatment without having to take full days off work or stay in Hamilton away from the comforts of family and home," said the centre's clinical director Dr Leanne Tyrie.


Treatments include a range of leading edge technologies to cover all adult malignant tumours.

Among the techniques is the Elekta Active Breathing Co-ordinator, used to manage the movement associated with breathing during treatment. The technique is designed to minimise damage to surrounding tissue during radiotherapy treatment.

''The Radiation Oncology Breast Cancer team at the KKC has always recognised the need to minimise radiation doses to normal tissues in order to reduce the possibility of long term side effects. We have used the ABC system where at all possible on the majority of our left-sided breast cancer patients," said radiation oncologist Dr Glenys Round, who specialises in the treatment of breast cancer.

"It is comfortable, intuitive and provides consistent respiratory motion feedback to all those using it."

Radiation therapy manager Shelly Donnell said the technique was particularly useful for the treatment of patients with left sided breast cancer, because of the position of the heart.

''And we have also used it for other indications requiring heart and pulmonary vessel sparing."

Patients are made aware of the risks of treating left sided breast tumours in terms of the increased likelihood of long term coronary artery damage. This has the potential to lead to cardiac toxicity later in life.

"When you are treating a patient cohort with a high chance of cure and normal life expectancy, protecting healthy tissue from radiation induced damage is critical," said Dr Tyrie.

"We ensure our patients are aware of the risks of heart disease induced in the treatment of left-sided breast cancers using older techniques and spend time explaining the benefits of the ABC system to them prior to therapy.

"Most patients will choose to do whatever they can to ensure the best outcomes. Clinicians here at KKC place a high priority on maximising excellent outcomes.

''We have seen a consistent reduction in dose to heart volumes, compared to traditional breath hold and free breathing CT techniques, and believe that, in the long term, ABC will lead to reduced toxicity for patients."

This year's HOT Pink Walk takes place on October 19, starting at 5.30pm from the Masonic Park in Tauranga. The Kathleen Kilgour Centre will be putting a team together for the walk.