Equra Health has equipped the Oncology Centre in Peter Mokaba Ridge Road, Durban, with an Elekta VERSA HD Linear Accelerator, the first of its kind on the African continent.
More versatile treatment options
Erhardt Korf, Equra Health Chief Operating Officer, explains that this radiotherapy machine, which has become operational at the end of April, will support more versatile treatment options with precise delivery and significantly reduced time needed to deliver the same radiation – allowing higher throughput.
“With the number of cancer patients expected to increase significantly over the next five to ten years, our Ridge Road Oncology Centre is preparing to increase its patient treatment capacity. It will also become one of only a handful of facilities in KwaZulu Natal equipped to offer a broad range of more advanced treatment modalities.”
The installation of the Elekta VERSA HD Linear Accelerator is in line with a ten-year preferred provider agreement signed by Elekta and Equra Health in 2013. The healthcare group is slowly migrating its large fleet of Siemens linear accelerators to Elekta equipment at its 24 affiliated centres in Southern Africa.
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The VERSA HD Linear Accelerator positions the Ridge Road Oncology Centre as a flagship unit in the region, with other flagship sites to be upgraded in Gauteng and the Western Cape over the next two to three years, says Korf.
The Elekta VERSA HD Linear Accelerator can deliver X-ray beams at conventional dose rates, as well as extremely high dose rates when the flattening-filter-free beam option is selected. It is also capable of delivering 3D conformal therapy or Intensity Modulated Radiotherapy in a conventional step-and-shoot technique, or via a VMAT delivery option.
It is the only machine in KZN which will have three photon energies (6MV, 10MV and 15MV) in addition to a large range of electron therapy beams available, this machine will offer radiation oncologists, physicists and radiotherapists the most versatile approach to target a cancerous lesion while protecting healthy surrounding tissue.
Most up to date patient monitoring device
This linear accelerator also offers the most up-to-date patient monitoring device in the form of KV imaging to enable better treatment accuracy.
According to Erik Leksell, Managing Director – Sub-Saharan Africa at Elekta, radiotherapy is one of the more cost-effective interventions in cancer.
“Therefore Elekta is very committed to developing and improving cancer care in South Africa. We are very excited providing our latest solution to Equra Health which will benefit and improve quality of care of their patients”.
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The installation of the Versa HD in the Equra Health Kwa-Zulu Natal flagship radiotherapy unit opens up a large range of treatment options to both ICON and non-ICON patients in the region. Planned treatment options available on this linear accelerator include 3D conformal, IMRT, and VMAT.
More advanced treatment options are planned for in the near future which include Stereotactic radiotherapy and IGRT with or without respiratory gating.
These new treatment modalities enable the oncologist to offer more accurate treatment, which will result in reduced side effects to the patient.
Standard radiotherapy effective for around 80% of patients
“It’s important to note that not all patients require treatment with this highly advanced technology. For around 80% of patients, standard radiotherapy is effective. However, at certain stages of disease, and in the case of certain head, neck and lung cancers, more accurate stereotactic radiation doses are beneficial,” says Korf.
The installation of this new linear accelerator will coincide with the roll-out of the state-of-the-art Monte-Carlo based treatment planning system, Elekta Monaco 5, which will enhance the planning process.
The Monte-Carlo method offers the most accurate way to calculate the dose distribution to the tissues and is the fundamental physics technique used to determine how the photons and subsequently electrons interact with the tissue and how they behave to deposit their energy during treatment delivery.
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“This is the latest and greatest in treatment planning, and the most accurate way to calculate how the radiation dose will be delivered. It complements the advanced treatment possible with the linear accelerator. Our staff, who are currently undergoing training on the new system, are very excited about its potential to deliver more accurate treatment, faster, with fewer side effects,” says Korf.
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Image: Linear accelerator at hospital from Shutterstock