February 8, 2019 8:03 am
Updated: February 16, 2019 6:41 pm

New cancer-treatment machine to provide custom care to Kingston patients

The TrueBeam was recently constructed at The Cancer Centre of Southeastern Ontario, although it treats various forms of cancer, it comes with side-effects.

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Radiation therapy patients in southeastern Ontario have received an upgrade.

The Cancer Centre of Southeastern Ontario recently completed construction of a cancer-treatment machine that provides customized care to patients with complex cancers.

“The TrueBeam is able to treat cancer anywhere in the body where radiation treatment is needed, such as lung, breast, prostate and head and neck,” said Dr. John Schreiner, the head of medical physics at the centre.

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According to Schreiner, this technology is not new; rather, it was developed in the 1950s but was never used for medical purposes.

“It’s essentially a high-energy X-ray machine. A device that a physics team in the ’50s would have used to analyze the physical properties of the constituents of matter,” said Schreiner.

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According to the manager of Radiation Therapy, Kit Tam, The TrueBeam allows staff to treat cancer patients quickly while delivering highly precise dose rates.

“The patient won’t notice a difference in the care that they receive but for staff, it will help us move patients around on the table in an easier way and allow us to ensure we’re using all of the linear accelerators as efficiently as possible,” said Tam.

Although The TrueBeam is a breakthrough in cancer treatment, Tam says it comes with its share of side effects.

“The patient will experience a skin rash, similar to a sunburn along with a sore mouth, which the patient will have difficulty swallowing because the damage to the tissue but after the first two weeks, the side effects, it becomes less and less.”

Tam continued on to say that staff is prepared to treat the patient through the side effects.

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The TrueBeam has been treating eager patients since November, and Schreiner says he is continually looking for ways to decrease collateral damage caused by radiation and believes the TrueBeam is the first step.

The centre treats around 40 cancer patients in southeastern Ontario each day, and Tam and Schreiner say it will only increase with positive results.

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