Cape Times

Fight against cancer gets ‘drastic’ boost

- Lisa Isaacs @lisa_isaacs

A NEW R35 million radiograph­y machine at Tygerberg Hospital will drasticall­y reduce radiothera­py treatment time to mere minutes, enable the targeted treatment of tumours and reduce side effects of treatment.

The state-of-the-art Elekta Synergy Agility linear accelerato­r (Linac) was unveiled yesterday. It is the only machine of its kind in the province, and Tygerberg staff have had to be trained internatio­nally to operate it. It is used in Europe and the US.

“With a normal Linac we can treat about 30 patients a day. Seeing this machine treats (patients) faster, I would say we can treat about 50 patients a day. It drasticall­y increases your patient throughput,” said Melanie Grobler, a medical physicist at the hospital.

She said the new Linac had an improved beam shaping mechanism called a multileaf collimator, which will enable better matching of the shape of the radiation beam to the shape of a tumour.

This in turn will decrease radiation to normal surroundin­g tissue and reduce the side effects normally associated with radiation treatment.

Professor Hannah Simonds, head of radiation oncology at Tygerberg, and associate professor at Stellenbos­ch University, said the new Linac can deliver the radiation dose to the patient in a single moving arc from 0 to 360 degrees.

Older technology Linacs deliver the dose to the patient in a combinatio­n of separate beams.

“Because we can also get an increased dose of radiation, our chances of cure and success are much higher,” Simonds said.

Jill Meaker, area manager at Tygerberg Hospital’s radiation oncology department, said the length of a patient’s total treatment course could be lessened by at least a week.

“Where it would take us 25 minutes to treat a patient a day, it will now take us a minute.”

She added that the Linac would put the province on par with the best radiation treatments offered around the world.

A new R35 million radiograph­y machine, called a linear accelerato­r (LINAC), has been installed at Tygerberg Hospital. The machine promises swift treatment and will be able to treat about 20 extra patients a day.

 ?? Picture: JEFFREY ABRAHAMS ??

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