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P.E.I. cancer patients benefiting from leading-edge treatment

Dr. Larry Pan, radiation oncologist and head of the Provincial Radiation Oncology Service Health and Wellness Minister Robert Mitchell, and P.E.I. Cancer Treatment Centre manager Dawn MacIsaac.
Dr. Larry Pan, radiation oncologist and head of the Provincial Radiation Oncology Service Health and Wellness Minister Robert Mitchell, and P.E.I. Cancer Treatment Centre manager Dawn MacIsaac. - Contributed

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - Island cancer patients requiring radiation therapy are now benefiting from more advanced treatment available, thanks to new technology at the P.E.I. Cancer Treatment Centre.

A new $10 million state-of-the-art TrueBeam linear accelerator enables higher precision radiation techniques to be delivered on the Island.

“The technology in the TrueBeam machine is an evolutionary step forward for cancer treatment in our province,” said Dr. Larry Pan, radiation oncologist and head of the Provincial Radiation Oncology Service.

“It has made it possible for us to offer higher precision and more accurate radiation therapy, including stereotactic ablative radiotherapy and radiosurgery, to more tumor sites and patients in P.E.I. We can treat our patients more effectively, and at the same time, more safely than ever before. For our patients, this can be life-changing.”

A cancer diagnosis is difficult on the individual and their family, said Health and Wellness Minister Robert Mitchell.

"Investing in this world-class technology will improve access to cancer care in our province by advancing current treatment options and providing new options for some cancers," he said. "For Islanders diagnosed with cancer, this is significant.”

Linear accelerators deliver high-energy radiation to treat a variety of cancer types, as well as palliative treatment to provide symptom relief.

The TrueBeam treats patients with more precise radiation in select situations and is ideal for offering less invasive stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) – an advanced form of radiation therapy that can treat smaller tumours earlier and help patients avoid some surgeries – minimizing side effects to normal tissue nearby. Enabled by the new technology, clinicians will be able to expand treatment to other tumor sites such as the spine, liver and brain which were not included in the initial SBRT program due to technology restrictions of the previous machine.

The P.E.I. Cancer Treatment Centre currently operates two linear accelerators. The new unit was purchased through a commitment in government’s 2016 capital funding and replaces the original one, installed in 2003. Together, the centre’s linear accelerators deliver approximately 9,200 radiation treatments per year.

“Radiation oncology has come a long way since the original linear accelerator was installed at the P.E.I. Cancer Treatment Centre over a decade ago. It is important that we continue to provide our patients with the new, modern standards of cancer care,” said P.E.I. Cancer Treatment Centre manager Dawn MacIsaac.

“Cancer treatments are always changing with technology. 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,” said MacIsaac.

Last year, more than 500 Island cancer patients required radiation therapy as part of their cancer treatment plan.

The P.E.I. Cancer Treatment Centre has provided specialized care and well-being for Islanders diagnosed with cancer since 1989. This includes medical and radiation therapy, clinical trials, patient navigation and post-cancer care support programs. For more information, click here.

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