The Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre: hospital, patient info and support, onTrac@PeterMac

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Hi everyone,

Here's some info about the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Melbourne.

As well as being the only freestanding public hospital in Australia devoted solely to the care and treatment of cancer patients, the Centre runs a program for adolescents and young adults with cancer, called onTrac@PeterMac, the only program of its kind in Australia. They also have a well-resourced Patient Information and Support Centre with a Cancer Support Nurse available to answer questions and help patients and supporters find information and support. There's more information about both of these services below.

If you have any experiences of the Peter Mac hospital or its onTrac@PeterMac program and its Information and Support Centre please do post your comments and thoughts here. It's one of a kind in Australia. I wonder if we should be considering building more stand-alone cancer centres or whether one of its kind is enough.

Their website at has information on their patient care programs for different types of cancer, as well as information on their history, research programs, education programs, nursing services and training, the Peter Mac Foundation, their chemotherapy day unit, medical staff and careers, and various other features that go to make up a standalone cancer centre.

As I am not familiar with the Centre and its services I will quote some relevant info from their website:

"The Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre holds a unique place in the Australian public health system. It is the only hospital solely dedicated to cancer and one of a few outside the US that has its own integrated cancer research programs and laboratories."

"Peter Mac’s main campus is situated in East Melbourne with satellite centres at Bendigo, Box Hill, Moorabbin and the Tattersalls Cancer Centre at Epworth in partnership with Peter Mac."

"The Institute has 151 registered beds, and each year cares for 9,000 inpatients as well as providing more than 200,000 occasions of outpatient care. Peter Mac now has large academic Divisions of Research, Radiation Oncology, Haematology, and Medical Oncology, and an evolving Division of Surgical Oncology."

"It took the concerted efforts of people such as Professor Sir Peter MacCallum and Dr Rutherford Kaye-Scott, to convince the Victorian Government to establish a Cancer Institute in March 1949. The Board met for the first time on 27 April that year and began work on a budget of 3,000 pounds in one room of the former Queen Victoria Hospital in William Street, Melbourne."

"By 1950, an outpatient clinic had been established and named in honour of Professor MacCallum, who had been a tireless advocate and driving force for a centralised cancer institute for Victoria."

In 1986 the name was changed to Peter MacCallum Cancer Institute -'The Peter Mac' "

"Approval was given in 1990 to move Peter Mac to the site of the former St Andrew's Hospital in East Melbourne, Building of the new clinical block commenced in 1991 and, at the same time, substantial renovations and alterations to the existing buildings were undertaken."

A feature of the Peter Mac hospital is the Peter Mac Patient Information & Support Centre where patients and their loved ones and supporters can find information in a variety of formats about cancers and about support services in Victoria.

"The Patient Information and Support Centre is a quiet, comfortable area where information about cancer and its treatment is available. There is information about support services that may assist you, your family and friends during this difficult time."

"The Cancer Support Nurse or a Volunteer can help you to find reliable, up-to-date and relevant information about cancer, its treatment and related support services."

"The Cancer Support Nurse is available to talk with you, to help answer your questions and can help you find other support relevant to your needs. Please drop into the Centre if you would like assistance; you are also welcome to browse". You can also phone or email if you have any concerns or questions or you would like make an appointment to spend more time with the Cancer Support Nurse - currently Nicole Kinnane.

Available information includes fact sheets, booklets, brochures, dvds, videos, and reliable website information, and there is internet access, a calendar of activities, information sessions, information available in other languages, and an on-line data_base_ of Victorian services.

Look for the link to "Patient Information and Support Centre" on the home page of the Peter Mac website for more information about the Centre, including its location and hours of opening. If you are attending the hospital as a patient or supporter I do encourage you to visit the information and support centre to see what it has to offer.

The Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre runs a program unique in Australia for adolescents and young adults with cancer, called onTrac@PeterMac - the Victorian Adolescent & Young Adult Cancer Service. The program website address is

They say: "onTrac@PeterMac ... offers specialised, age appropriate care to Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) cancer patients treated within adult hospitals. The team includes a medical & paediatric oncologist, clinical nurse consultant, psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker, palliative care CNS, education advisor, music therapist, education & training officer and research officer. The service provides:
* clinical care and support ... young people undergoing cancer treatment
* secondary consultation service to healthcare professionals, young people and the broader community
* training, education & professional development program
* medical & psychosocial translational research
* AYA resources"

"Located at Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, East Melbourne, the onTrac@PeterMac team travel throughout Victoria, to ensure all young people have access to specialist support and advice if required".

"Any young person undergoing cancer care in Victoria is eligible to access the services of the onTrac@PeterMac program."

The age range of those eligible is currently 15 to 25 years.

You can find more information about the onTrac@PeterMac program on their website and there's also a variety of information on the website for both patients and health professionals.

About the patient section of their website they say in part:

"This section of the onTrac@PeterMac web site has been specifically designed for Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) cancer patients. It covers a range of questions that you may want answered and also some other information that we thought you may find useful in answering questions related to a cancer diagnosis and its treatments".

About the health professionals section they say in part:

"The Health Professionals section of the web site has been designed specifically to assist Health professionals who work with or have an interest in adolescent and young adult cancer care. The information that can be found in this website has come from the knowledge and experience gained from healthcare professionals working in the field".


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Teacher Mum
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Re: The Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre: hospital, patient ...


I stayed at the Peter Mac accomodation centre the day before my PET Scan at Peter Mac. The whole process from go to woe was wonderful. They are very compassionate and caring. The social work department assisted us fully and went above and beyond the call of duty which was outstanding. The PET centre liased with me, the Royal Women's Hospital Oncology Department and their records to ensure that appointments were made a.s.a.p.

So from the little experience I had with them, they were absolutly outstanding.

Teacher Mum

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Re: The Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre: hospital, patient ...


I have been a patient@PeterMac since 1983 and cannot talk highly enough about that institution. The combination of technical expertise, patient empathy and patient support I think is fairly unique. However, they have also had a huge impact on the way cancer is dealt with in Victoria. Until just over twenty years ago they were the only place in Victoria providing radiotherapy, so they have had a huge influence on the practice of radiotherapy - they trained all the radiotherapists and most of the radiation oncologists. However, this same ethos was also apparent in the other disciplines, in nursing, in allied health and patient support. Anyone who is influential in cancer at all levels in Victoria has had a connection to Peter Mac. It has always been a centre of innovation, of care and of hope.



If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea. Antoine de Saint-Exupery

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Re: The Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre: hospital, patient ...

I currently attend OnTrac...they have been amazing there. Always willing to help no matter what and always want the best for you. I encourage any young adult to attend if they can.

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