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A new cancer treatment to help sick kids will be available at two Melbourne hospitals

Photo: New kids cancer treatment free in Victoria
A radical cancer therapy helped save Melbourne schoolgirl Violet Uhi but she had to go overseas to get it.

Now other children and their families will be able to access the revolutionary chimeric antigen receptor T-cell therapy in Melbourne for free, with two hospitals to offer the treatment.

The immunotherapy will be available at the Royal Children's Hospital and the Peter McCallum Cancer centre, the state and federal governments announced on Sunday.

The Uhi family travelled to the United States last year after they found out eight-year-old Violet's acute lymphoblastic leukaemia had come back for the second time.

"It's frightening not to know what is going to happen to your child and knowing that there's no available treatment options in Australia, that were affective enough for Violet was really harrowing experience," mother Tess Uhi told reporters on Sunday.
The young girl was just four when she was first diagnosed with the blood cancer, and despite rounds of chemotherapy the cancer returned.

But after moving to Seattle for four months last year to get the treatment her cancer is now in remission and Violet is back at school.

"She's thriving," Ms Uhi said of her daughter.

The family would have had to sell their house and borrow money if they didn't receive a grant to pay for the expensive treatment, which can cost around $500,000 per patient.

The program is jointly funded through the Victorian and federal governments and around 30 patients a year will get treatment.

"These brave young people battling cancer will now be able to get the life-saving therapy they need, without going overseas," Victorian health minister Jenny Mikakos said on Sunday.

Children and other young people from interstate with blood cancer will also be able to access the immunotherapy in Victoria, she said.

Treatments centres for the therapy, known as Kymriah, in other parts of the country are also being planned.

So far the treatment has already been used to treat seven young people in Victoria, the federal health minister Greg Hunt said on Sunday.

He said a process looking to expand the treatment for adults was currently underway.

"I won't put a timeframe on it but I'm quietly hopefully we can do this at the earliest possible time," he told reporters.

In 2017, there were 105 new diagnoses for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in Australia and of those 60 were children or young adults.

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