Faster procedure for cancer patients

2019-10-08 06:00
From left are Dr Bhavna Patel, Dr Bernadette Eick, Francois Heyns, Prof Jeannette Parkes and Nanette Joubert (kneeling), who were happy to display the new Halcyon radiotherapy machine. PHOTO: Nomzamo Yuku

From left are Dr Bhavna Patel, Dr Bernadette Eick, Francois Heyns, Prof Jeannette Parkes and Nanette Joubert (kneeling), who were happy to display the new Halcyon radiotherapy machine. PHOTO: Nomzamo Yuku

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Cancer patients at Groote Schuur Hospital in Observatory will now receive state-of-the-art treatment after the hospital invested millions of Rands in a Halcyon radiotherapy machine.

The machine was installed and began operating at the hospital’s oncology unit on Wednesday 2 October.

It was purchased from Varian Africa at a cost of R35m, and was shipped from Switzerland.

It is hoped that it will help manage the growing demand of cancer patients needing radiotherapy.

According to Nanette Joubert, head of the department of medical physics, a procedure will only take less than eight minutes per patient with the new machine and they can accommodate an average of 40 patients daily. The machine stores details of each patient so that they are accurately identified with each examination.

The name is displayed on a small screen during each procedure.

Joubert says the machine is an all-in-one design, with a self-shielding layer that makes it even safer. Joubert explains all the required examinations and treatments will be performed in one go. This will also help reduce the waiting period for patients who need treatment.

Jeannette Parkes, head of radiation oncology, says the machine can treat complicated radiotherapy plans that conform to the highest standard in the world. She says it allows accurate verification of the patient’s position during every radiotherapy treatment day.

“This is particularly important for patients who are being treated in areas where soft tissue organs can move with daily physiological changes,” Parkes says.

Dr Bhavna Patel, the hospital’s chief executive officer, thanked everyone who played a role in sourcing and making sure the machine is in a position to render the intended services.

Another word of gratitude came from Francois Heyns a cancer patient, who is battling cancer for a second time since his first diagnosis in 2011. He says it is good to know that the government cares and invests in advanced equipment to save lives. He says unlike the first time he was diagnosed, he is now more positive, knowing he’s getting the best treatment in the country. He encourages those that have been diagnosed with cancer to not be frightened or think of it is a death sentence.

“You can beat it.”

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