New high-tech machine to fight cancer

From left, Groote Schuur Hospital’s Nanette Joubert, Health and Wellness MEC Dr Nomafrench Mbombo and Groote Schuur’s head of radiology oncology Professor Jeannette Parkes inspect the new linear accelerator machine. Picture: supplied

Groote Schuur Hospital has unveiled the first of two new linear accelerator machines in the province to help improve radiation therapy treatment for cancer patients.

Each machine is worth R47 million, and the other one will go to Tygerberg Hospital.

The machine uses high-energy particles or waves to destroy or damage cancer cells.

“Most treatments will be done in short outpatient visits of 30 minutes to one hour, requiring no hospitalisation,” said Groote Schuur Hospital spokesman Alaric Jacobs.

Groote Schuur’s department of radiology oncology treats about 3 000 new patients every year and half of them require radiotherapy.

The machines lessened the probability of side effects in cancer treatment and provided advanced treatment options for patients with breast and lunger cancer, said Mr Jacobs.

Professor Jeannette Parkes, the hospital’s head of radiology oncology, said many patients with brain lesions who would have had to have surgery or would have gone untreated could now be treated with the machine.

“It also will allow treatment of lesions elsewhere in the body, allowing better local control of paraspinal tumours and certain types of tumours in the spine, liver and lungs. It also has electrons, so superficial treatments can be done,” she said.

Health and Wellness MEC Dr Nomafrench Mbombo said her department was prioritising investment in infrastructure.