Community fundraising fast-forwards cash to buy machinery to diagnose lung and other gastrointestinal tract cancers on the Border

BORDER lung cancer sufferers will no longer have to travel 300km for diagnosis with fundraising fast-tracking the buying of vital equipment for use in Albury.

Endoscopic gear used to pinpoint cancers of the lungs, oesophagus, stomach and pancreas will be financed by $175,000 from the Albury Wodonga Regional Cancer Centre Trust Fund.

The cash injection was announced on Wednesday as part of a $229,159 round of trust funding for the cancer centre.

Healthy progress: Dr Craig Underhill in the cancer centre's wellness section which will open later this year. Picture: MARK JESSER

Healthy progress: Dr Craig Underhill in the cancer centre's wellness section which will open later this year. Picture: MARK JESSER

Albury Wodonga Health director of cancer services Craig Underhill said the equipment would remove the need for patients to travel for assessment.

“At the moment people go to Melbourne for this diagnostic test which is really important in getting the biopsy of a lung cancer, we haven’t been able to do that on the Border up until now,” Dr Underhill said.

“We’ve been doing a lot of work in the last 18 months building up a business case, but would have had to stand in a queue to get the equipment from government, so it’s fantastic that the community has pitched together and donated this money, so we’ll be able to fast-track the introduction of this service.”

Dr Underhill said without the trust money it could have been two years before the equipment was bought - he now expects it to be running in the first half of 2017.

He said lung cancer was one of the most common types of cancer diagnosed on the Border.

“There’s many dozens of people a year that would be going to Melbourne to have this diagnostic test, so it’s really going to benefit a large number of patients and their families,” he said.

Albury Wodonga Health director of medicine Franz Eversheim said the machinery would cost $250,000 in total with the biopsy procedure lasting for 30 minutes to an hour.

He said if a cancer was diagnosed it would now be treatable through chemotherapy on the Border but surgery would still need to occur in Melbourne.

Another $20,000 from the trust will go towards a plan for buying fitness equipment to help with patients exercise.

An amount of $17,159 has been earmarked for furnishing consulting rooms used for clinical trials.

The outlays follow the fund raising $45,000 via last month’s Sunshine Week which embraced a family fun day, charity golf day and morning and afternoon teas.

Also on Wednesday, the Albury-based Farrer Lodge No. 93 donated $10,000 to the trust with the money raised directly and the other contributed by umbrella group Masonicare.

Lodge secretary Graeme Howard said all members had been touched by cancer and wanted to contribute.