Olivia Newton-John cancer centre gets $18m

Cancer patients will have access to cutting edge technology at the Olivia Newton-John centre.Olivia Newton-John has used her own breast cancer battle to champion the benefits of an $18 million equipment and research package in Melbourne.

Victorian cancer patients will have access to rare, cutting edge technology at the Olivia Newton-John centre under the rollout announced on Tuesday.

The 69-year-old visited state parliament with Premier Daniel Andrews and Health Minister Jill Hennessy to announce funding for the machine, which will better treat tumours.

“I’m incredibly excited and incredibly grateful,” Ms Newton-John told reporters.

“I’m so thrilled that this is going to help other cancer patients who are going through things like I have been through with the metastasises. This new machine is going to be life changing.”

As part of the package, $8 million will go to the MRI-linear accelerator service, the first in Victoria and only the second in the southern hemisphere.

The MRI-linac machine will be ordered soon and start treating patients from 2019 and will eventually help about 200 patients a year.

Currently patients have an MRI scan before radiotherapy, but the new service provides an MRI in the treatment room, improving accuracy.

It will improve treatment for more difficult cancers such as brain, head, neck, pancreatic and liver cancers.

The remaining $10 million will go to establishing a research hub at the Olivia Newton-John centre.

“This $18 million boost is all about changing lives and saving lives,” Mr Andrews said.

“None of this is possible though without people like Olivia who have turned their own cancer journey into an opportunity to raise money, to raise profile, awareness and to push all of us to do better, and for that we’re very much in her debt.”

Ms Newton-John was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 1992, the same weekend her father died from cancer.

In 2017 she revealed back pain that initially caused her to postpone the first half of her concert tour, turned out to be breast cancer that metastasised to the sacrum.

The cancer wellness and research centre is a partnership between Austin Health and the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute.