Cancer Services - Adult

For adults (over 16 years)

Hauora Tairāwhiti, through Gisborne Hospital, provides:

  • Surgical Treatment
  • Medical, Radiation Oncology and Haematology visiting specialists
  • Outpatient chemotherapy programmes
  • Links to specialised nurses, palliative care and Oncology Services, Social Worker and Psychologist
  • Links to Community Agencies like the Cancer Society and Canteen

What is cancer?

Cancer is when certain cells in the body grow and divide in an uncontrolled way. These cells can invade and destroy surrounding tissues. More information on cancer.

Referral Expectations

Usually, your referral to the Tairāwhiti Cancer Service is via a letter from another doctor, such as your GP. People with a high suspicion of cancer will initially see a Gisborne Hospital service for investigations.


Cancer is diagnosed with a number of tests. Usually, a biopsy is needed.This is where a sample of the tumour/growth is sent to the laboratory to be examined under the microscope.

This can tell the doctors exactly what type of cancer is present and guides them to what other tests are needed to establish the diagnosis and extent of cancer. 

Other tests may include:

  • blood and urine tests
  • CT or MRI scans
  • ultrasounds
  • nuclear medicine scans

Most tests can be done at Gisborne Hospital but you may have to travel out of town for specialist investigations, usually at Waikato Hospital.


Waiting for results can be frustrating and distressing. You can keep in touch with what is happening by talking to your GP or a Cancer Nurse Specialist at Gisborne Hospital.

If you require support for your cancer journey, the Cancer Nurse Specialist can refer you to see the Cancer Social Worker or Psychologist for emotional, practical or logistical information and support. It is a good idea to have a support person with you at your consultations. A lot of information is given and it can be hard to take it all in. It is a good idea to write down a list of questions you might want to ask.

Procedures and treatments

Once the diagnosis is established you will meet with various specialists to talk about what the diagnosis means for you. 

People with cancer will need different treatments to get the best outcome. Treatment may be a combination of surgery or chemotherapy or radiotherapy. The recommended treatment is decided at a special type of meeting called an MDM (multidisciplinary meeting) usually held through a video conference. It involves different specialist doctors from different hospitals in New Zealand discussing the best option for your treatment.

The recommended treatment options available, and the benefits and risks of those treatments will be discussed with you. Together with Doctors and Specialist Cancer Nurses the best treatment plan will be worked out.

This may include 

Assistance with travel

Many Tairāwhiti people with cancer will have to travel for tests or treatment. You may be eligible for assistance with costs through the National Travel Assistance Scheme. 

If you are in Waikato for radiation treatment, the Lions Lodge is one of the accommodation options available.

Information about cancer

This information may or may not apply to you. The best information is that which you get from discussions with your Oncology Doctor or Nurse.