Better cancer treatment via better technology with new linear accelerator
Dr. Larry Pan, radiation oncologist, is proud of the latest machine used for cancer treatment in PEI’s radiation clinic, but he’s most excited by the impact he expects to see on patient’s lives.
“This new TrueBeam system lets us target a tumour in a very precise way, to reach tumours we hadn’t been able to treat before and to work on smaller lumps so that in some cases a patient won’t even have to go for surgery,” he said, referring to the new $10 million dollar piece of equipment called a linear accelerator.
“We can better shape the radiation beam to the tumour while minimizing amounts to the surrounding tissue. In some cases it translates into better radiation dose, better control of treatment to the tumour and hopefully better rates of survival.”
Linear accelerators deliver high-energy radiation to treat a variety of cancer types, as well as palliative treatment to provide symptom relief.
PEI Cancer Treatment Centre Manager Dawn MacIsaac said the new device improves cancer treatment and reduces the need for Islanders to leave the province. She said they expect to treat about 500 patients per year.
“Having a second linear accelerator here is important. It means that we can really speed up access to services and reduce the need for patients to go off-Island.”
Health and Wellness Minister Robert Mitchell said in-province treatment options may help make it easier for Islanders to weather a cancer diagnosis and therapy.
“For anybody dealing with cancer – or for their families - it’s a significant impact to have to leave the province for treatment. On top of the disease itself, they end up dealing with the cost of lodgings and food and being away from their family support.” - Hon. Robert Mitchell, Minister of Health and Wellness
“This is a major investment for government. But it means we’re able to provide the best and most modern treatment for anybody dealing with cancer and they are able to have it here closer to home, he added.”
The minister said he’s impressed by the commitment he sees from staff and administrators who work to ensure Island cancer treatment can keep up with changing technology.
“It’s huge for the staff to learn the new technology and they have stepped up in a big way to train on the new equipment,” Mitchell said.
“They’re excited about it and no doubt it makes the patient experience that much better.”
The PEI Cancer Treatment Centre operates two linear accelerators. The new unit was purchased through government’s capital funding and replaces the original one, installed in 2003. Together, the linear accelerators deliver approximately 9,200 radiation treatments per year.