New linear accelerator will allow for more precise, safe treatment, says P.E.I.'s head of radiation oncology

A new $10 million linear accelerator replaces older model at the P.E.I. Cancer Treatment Centre to allow for more precise, safe and accurate doses of radiation therapy to be delivered on Prince Edward Island.

'This allows us to continue to be at the forefront in terms of modern radiation therapy delivery'

The media was given a demonstration of the new linear accelerator Friday afternoon at the P.E.I. Cancer Treatment Centre. (Ken Linton/CBC)

New equipment at the P.E.I. Cancer Treatment Cancer will help patients get more advanced and timely cancer treatment on Prince Edward Island.

A demonstration took place Friday afternoon of the new TrueBeam linear accelerator that was installed in the fall.

The machine can deliver radiation to treat a variety of different cancer types as well as provide symptom relief.

"This new technology allows us to treat more precisely, more accurately and more safely in certain cases," said Dr. Larry Pan, radiation oncologist and head of provincial radiation oncology service.

"It also allows a higher dose rate in some cases to be delivered so that we can shorten treatment times for the patient on the bed."

The new $10-million linear accelerator will allow radiation oncologists to better treat cancer in sites like the brain, spine and liver — which may not have always been possible on P.E.I. before.

It will replace the older of the two existing accelerators, which was originally installed in 2003.

Health PEI estimates that more than 9,000 radiation treatments are delivered each year.

State-of-the-art technology

"It is important that we continue to provide our patients with the new, modern standards of cancer care," said the centre's manager Dawn MacIsaac, in a press release.

"The new linear accelerator will ensure a stable future for the radiation oncology service on P.E.I. and ensure the hundreds of Islanders who rely on this form of cancer treatment will continue to receive it here at home." 

Dr. Larry Pan, head of the provincial radiation oncology service, says because of the new linear accelerator's precision, it will allow them to work on even more types of cancer therapy. (Ken Linton/CBC)

"The modern paradigm in cancer treatment has always been to try to treat patients as close to home as possible, minimizing the travel distance that the patient needs," said Pan.

"So certainly it's a huge financial, social — psychological sometimes — burden for patients to leave the Island for treatment."

More than 500 Islanders required radiation therapy as part of their cancer treatment plan last year.

Pan says the new equipment will be able to treat more effectively and safely, which could be life-changing for patients. (Ken Linton/CBC)

The new linear accelerator will be able to be more precise when delivering radiation.

"I think this is an evolutionary step forward," Pan said.

"Because radiation oncology, treatment and technology is rapidly evolving, we have to keep up with the standards and the capabilities and this allows us to continue to be at the forefront in terms of modern radiation therapy delivery."

The funding for the $10-million linear accelerator was part of the province's 2016 capital funding.

More P.E.I. news

With files from Sarah MacMillan

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