THUNDER BAY – Health – Regional Cancer Care Northwest is thrilled to announce that it has recently installed one of the world’s most advanced Linear Accelerators (LINAC) – the Elekta Infinity – to provide exceptional radiation therapy for patients in Northwestern Ontario.
Regional Cancer Care Northwest Thrilled
So what, exactly, does this mean for patients?
The new Infinity LINAC allows radiation therapy treatments to be delivered more efficiently, contributing to fewer side effects, less time for patients on the LINAC treatment bed, and potentially, improved patient outcomes.
“We’re proud to partner with one of Ontario’s preeminent cancer centers,” says Michael Power, Vice President and Managing Partner, Elekta Canada. “Elekta Infinity represents the pinnacle of radiotherapy’s technological sophistication, and in the hands of physicians at Regional Cancer Care Northwest, patients will be receiving very safe, accurate and clinically effective therapy.”
The Infinity LINAC also has the ability to do a CT scan while a patient is in a treatment position immediately prior to radiation delivery. And quickly too – the scan can be done in less than a minute.
Dr. Sunil Gulavita, Head and Coordinator of Radiation Oncology at TBRHSC explains “With daily imaging capability using the CT scan, we can target the tumour and spare normal tissue to ensure we are radiating the correct anatomy. Eventually, we will develop new treatment techniques to take advantage of the Infinity LINAC’s precision by decreasing the number of daily fractions and increasing the daily dose. Fewer fractions mean fewer visits for patients to the Cancer Centre.”
Local businessman and former radiation therapy patient Shawn Christie knows just how much patients will benefit from fewer visits and less time spent in treatment. As he said, “I used to spend 35-40 minutes every day, Monday to Friday, having radiation. We’re so lucky to have this new LINAC. It’s fantastic. But putting technology aside, I can’t emphasize enough how much it eases the cancer journey when patients are supported by Cancer Centre staff, who deliver expert care with compassion and commitment.”
The Infinity LINAC project (including both machines) is an eight million dollar endeavour largely funded by Cancer Care Ontario – the Ontario government agency that directs and oversees high quality, timely cancer services and improved access to care for all Ontarians.
“Replacing aging radiation treatment equipment is a critical component of ensuring timely access to high-quality cancer care as close to home as possible,” says Michael Sherar, President and CEO, Cancer Care Ontario. “The installation of this new LINAC is just one example of Cancer Care Ontario’s partnership with the North West Regional Cancer Program to ensure patients and families in Thunder Bay and the surrounding communities have access to a safe, sustainable, efficient and effective cancer system.
Despite receiving much government funding, the installation of the new LINACs would not have been possible without the community’s support. Residents of Northwestern Ontario have a long history of donating to the Northern Cancer Fund (formerly the Northern Cancer Research Foundation) to bring leading-edge care close-to-home. That tradition continues as the community has, once again, committed to support the investment in these new LINACs, that will ensure our friends, family, and neighbours have the very best opportunity to survive cancer.
“We are delighted to share in this exciting announcement about new linear accelerators,” said David Knutson, Chair, Board of Directors, Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Foundation. “Donors to the Northern Cancer Fund have given generously to the cancer program and are continuing to do so, knowing how much of an impact their donations have on cancer care here in Northwestern Ontario. We are all touched by cancer, but luckily, cancer’s new normal is that it is now a chronic condition. With early detection, advanced treatments, and exceptional cancer care, more people will survive their disease. Donations to the Northern Cancer Fund are an essential component to ongoing, advanced care, close-to-home and I thank our donors who have truly made this possible.”
The first new LINAC marks the beginning of fulfilling RCC NW’s Exceptional Cancer Care plan promise to replace its two existing linear accelerators by 2015. A second Infinity LINAC is scheduled to be installed, commissioned, and treating patients by fall of 2013.