Laser tool for cancer surgeons

Head and neck surgeon Dr Stephen Pearson and staff with the new high-precision surgical laser at Wollongong Hospital on Tuesday. Picture: GREG TOTMAN

Head and neck surgeon Dr Stephen Pearson and staff with the new high-precision surgical laser at Wollongong Hospital on Tuesday. Picture: GREG TOTMAN

Head and neck cancer patients will have access to new, cutting-edge treatment at Wollongong Hospital with the arrival of a $160,000 CO2 Duo surgical laser.

The state-of-the-art system, which was bought with funds raised by the Illawarra Cancer Carers, was officially handed over to the hospital on Tuesday.

Wollongong ENT head-neck surgeon Dr Stephen Pearson said the high-precision surgical tool will improve patient outcomes in a number of ways.

"The reason why this is so important is that it can improve our ability to remove tumours more precisely, with less complications, less bleeding, less surgical time and patients recover faster," Dr Pearson said.

"This tool will be widely used on a whole range of patients with different cancers anywhere from in the oral cavity, in the airway or throat and it will be utilised by the three head and neck surgeons working in the area.

"It will make a big difference to our head and neck cancer patients."

The laser can treat small tumours in larynx, hypopharynx, tongue, palate and floor-of-mouth cancer as an alternative to radiotherapy. The machine's fibre optic technology allows surgeons to have greater vision and make more precise incisions.

Illawarra Cancer Carers volunteers worked tirelessly to raise a whopping $265,000 at their annual fund-raiser held at City Beach Function Centre in June.

The figure included a $110,000 donation from the estate of Horsley woman Margaret McTaggart, who had been treated for cancer at Wollongong Hospital before she died.

Illawarra Cancer Carers volunteer and banquet committee chairman Keith Wilson said the charity was dedicated to bettering the journey of cancer patients in the region.

"We do whatever we can to help with cancer treatment or making the journey of cancer better for local cancer patients - that's what the cancer carers are all about."

The organisation has raised more than $3 million for cancer care in the region.

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