Patients who have been diagnosed with cancer do not only worry about the medical costs of treatment but there is also a high volume of patients who need immediate treatment. Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town recently introduced its latest radiotherapy machine to patients which treat up to 40 patients a day. Professor Jeanette Parkes, head of radiation oncology at the hospital said the department currently sees more than 3000 new oncology patients a year. “Every year this number increases by 5% and 10%, up 60% of these patients will require radiotherapy as part of their treatment.
The machine looks like a CT Scanner and everything is contained inside the machine promising relaxation and safety. A full treatment can be done within six minutes and is four times faster than standard treatments. She highlights that the machine image guide system which allows the staff to take an image of the area they want to treat, while the patient is lying on the bed. They then fuse the image with the planning CT images ,taken before the time. This allows accurate verification of patients position during every treatment day. It is important for patients who are treated in areas where soft tissues and organs move with daily physiological changes, ensuring minimal radiation to these areas.
Groote Schuur Hospital is famous for being the institution where the first human to human heart transplant took place which was conducted by University of Cape Town-educated surgeon Christiaan Barnard on the patient Louis Washkansky. Staff members were very diligent and went the extra mile to make sure that the paperwork of the machine was completed on time.
Francois Heyns aged 52 shared his first treatment experience of the machine. “It’s always a traumatic experience but my experience with this machine is very different because it works faster and the staff is very professional and companionate”.