World Cancer Day at Groote Schuur

Radiotherapist, Samantha Wessels, left and radiographer Vanessa Baartman working with a patient at the Halcyon machine.

Groote Schuur Hospital commemorated World Cancer Day on Tuesday February 4.

The hospital’s oncology unit sees more than 3 000 new patients every year and each year this number increases by between 5 and 10%.

Head of the ocology unit at hospital, Professor Jeannette Parkes, says radiotherapy techniques have become increasingly complex in the last 15 years. “New imaging techniques allow visualisation of the target, but hitting the target is no longer enough. Protecting the surrounding organs at risk is not only desirable but it is now possible,” she says.

Professor Parkes says the hospital’s Halcyon machine allows for high standards of cancer treatment and enables greater safety, with a lower level of input required from personnel.

“It allows complex planning, the ability to move the patient into exactly the right position automatically at every fraction, and visualisation of all the structures and is much quicker than standard machines,” she said.

Professor Parkes says the hospital had substantial investment in equipment and infrastructure in the past 15 years. “We have the latest upgraded patient management system, allowing automated transfer of information along the chain of radiotherapy which includes the latest brachytherapy system in operation in our brachytherapy theatre and the Halcyon is the second machine we have installed in the past five years,” she said.

Hospital spokesperson, Alaric Jacobs, says Groote Schuur Hospital has introduced palliative care training and training of radiotherapy professionals from all over Africa as a collaboration with the Cape Peninsula University of Technology.