Personalised treatment to meet your needs
We are deeply committed to making things easier and improving the quality of life for our patients, their families and carers at every stage of their cancer experience. To become a patient of Chris O’Brien Lifehouse requires a referral from a GP or other specialist to one of our Lifehouse specialists.
Wellness and prevention
Prevention is much better than cure, and with the right information, we can all take steps to minimise our risk of developing cancer. There are a number of simple lifestyle changes you can make to help reduce your risk of cancer, such as:
- Maintaining a healthy weight through diet and regular exercise
- Quitting smoking
- Reducing alcohol intake
- Being sun smart
Wellness is crucial not only in the prevention of cancer, but in every stage of a cancer experience. Healthy eating and regular physical activity can significantly alleviate symptoms of cancer and its treatments, and optimise health, quality of life and treatment outcomes.
Our integrative oncologist and supportive care specialists can advise on lifestyle changes you can make to reduce your risk of cancer. Visit the Lifehouse LivingRoom to find out more about a holistic medical consultation.
Detecting cancer early
In most cases, the earlier a cancer is detected, the easier it is to treat. Some types of cancer can be detected with a test before any symptoms have appeared. It’s important to stay on top of any cancer screening recommended for you and have a check-up with your doctor promptly if you notice any changes in your body.
Why should I have a check-up and when?
At any age, it is important to have a check-up from your GP if you notice anything unusual or have any concerns. Know what is normal for you so that you can quickly identify changes.
- Lumps or sores that don’t heal (like an ulcer in your mouth)
- Coughs or hoarseness that won’t go away
- Unexplained weight loss
- A mole or skin spot that changes shape, size or colour
- Changes in your toilet habits
Screening involves having a test for cancer when you don’t have any symptoms. It helps us detect cancer earlier, which can mean better outcomes and survival.
In Australia, there are three free national cancer screening programs:
- BreastScreen Australia Program – every two years for women aged 50 to 69
- National Bowel Cancer Screening Program – once a year for men and women 50 years and over
- National Cervical Screening Program – every two years for women aged 18 to 70
These are recommended for the whole population because there is a demonstrable benefit.
If you have a close relative who has had cancer, or you are worried about your cancer risk, you should discuss it with your doctor.
A cancer diagnosis can be physically, emotionally and mentally challenging. But many cancers can be treated, and patients can go on to live long, full lives. However, some people live with the effects of cancer long after treatment has finished. We are here to support you every step of the way.
Learning more about the cancer and its treatment, and how best to look after yourself, can help give you reassurance and knowledge about how to best manage your cancer.
You may be given a wide range of treatments depending on your cancer type, what stage it is and your health in general. These treatments may include chemotherapy, targeted therapy, immunotherapy or surgery.
These are drugs that are used to treat cancer and they are delivered in a variety of ways. Most common is Chemotherapy as a liquid through a drip into a vein (intravenously) or an injection, but they can be taken as tablets or capsules. Because these drugs circulate through the entire body, they can cause side effects as they interfere with other bodily processes. Side effects are closely monitored during treatment, and measures can be taken to help control these effects.
Radiation therapy uses high energy X-rays to target and kill cancer cells. Modern radiation therapy technology and techniques allow us to target the cancer with extreme accuracy, ensuring minimal damage to surrounding healthy organs and tissue.
Immunotherapy is a relatively new type of drug treatment that harnesses the power of the body’s own immune system to fight cancer. Immunotherapy is generally given directly into a vein via an intravenous drip, like chemotherapy.
Different types of immunotherapy work in different ways. Some stimulate the immune system to effectively recognise and fight cancer, while others break down the barriers that stop the immune system from attacking the cancer. The type of immunotherapy you may be prescribed will depend on your cancer type and stage.
Depending on the type of cancer you have, you may be eligible to take part in a clinical trial. Clinical trials are the cornerstone of research investigations, where patients can volunteer to test new therapies, drugs, diagnostic tests and devices to determine their effectiveness in treating or managing cancer. Your clinician may suggest you join a clinical trial at any stage and will thoroughly discuss the potential risks and benefits with you.
In some cases, the effects of cancer can last long after treatment is over and many cancer survivors and their families face enduring physical, mental and emotional challenges. It is not uncommon for someone who has survived cancer to make some life changes once treatment is finished. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle after cancer treatment can help you reduce the risk of cancer returning.
Our team in the Lifehouse LivingRoom are specialists across a variety allied health services and integrative oncology therapies, which help to restore your physical, social, cognitive and emotional health to promote a high quality of life.
Cancer Council NSW offers a wealth of information about surviving cancer, including the Living Well after Cancer program, a free community education program held throughout New South Wales, with trained cancer survivors.
Living with advanced cancer
Advanced cancer often can’t be cured, but it can be controlled. This is known as palliative treatment – treatment that is not aimed at curing the cancer, but stopping or slowing the spread, or relieving the side effects of your cancer and maintaining your quality of life.
Our multidisciplinary team can help you navigate the side effects of living with advanced cancer. The Lifehouse LivingRoom offers supportive care and complementary therapies to improve your well-being and quality of life.
Learning that your cancer has spread, or come back, can be overwhelming. There are many places to seek help and advice. We offer a range of services to help you and your family manage the emotional impacts of advanced cancer, including psych-oncology, patient advocacy and spiritual support services.
Financial and legal issues
A cancer diagnosis can cause financial difficulties, but you don’t need to face these alone. It is also a good idea to consider any potential legal issues that may arise. There is practical advice and support available to help patients and their families through these challenges.
For many types of cancer, we have specialists nurses who can help you with all aspects of your treatment and connect you to support services both at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse and within the community.
The Cancer Council NSW has a confidential support helpline with specialist cancer nurses available to answer all types of questions about cancer. You can call the Cancer Helpline between 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday. The service is also available in others languages, including Italian, Cantonese, Mandarin, Arabic and Greek.
There is also a wealth of information and support services available to help patients and their families through a cancer diagnosis. Speak to your care team, our patient liaison team, a social worker or your GP for advice or visit of these useful sites