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P.E.I.'s Queen Elizabeth Hospital gets $10-million upgrade to linear accelerator

Dr. Larry Pan, radiation oncologist at the P.E.I. Cancer Treatment Centre, provides a demonstration of the new $10 million TrueBeam linear accelerator. The TrueBeam will provide more precise radiation treatment and will allow doctors to treat smaller tumours earlier, helping patients avoid some surgeries.
Dr. Larry Pan, radiation oncologist at the P.E.I. Cancer Treatment Centre, provides a demonstration of the new $10 million TrueBeam linear accelerator. The TrueBeam will provide more precise radiation treatment and will allow doctors to treat smaller tumours earlier, helping patients avoid some surgeries. - Mitsuki Mori

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - The P.E.I. Cancer Treatment Centre will be receiving a long-awaited boost in the form of a new state of the art linear accelerator.

After announcing the initiative in 2016, the province unveiled the new $10 million TrueBeam linear accelerator at a media event on Friday afternoon. The machine will enable higher precision radiation therapy to be delivered for cancer patients on the Island. It will allow for treatment of smaller tumours earlier and will allow clinicians to expand treatment to tumour sites such as the spine, liver and brain.

The P.E.I. Cancer Treatment Centre currently operates two linear accelerators. The new unit will replace the original one, which was installed in 2003. The centre’s linear accelerators deliver approximately 9,200 radiation treatments per year.

"We know that the magnitude of cancer burden on the Island is really significant. Approximately 900 Islanders will be diagnosed with cancer every year, and about 400 will die of their disease," said Dr. Larry Pan, the head of the provincial radiation oncology service.

"The magnitude and the importance of cancer care on the Island is certainly very important. I would say it affects all Islanders from Tignish to Souris."

"We know that the magnitude of cancer burden on the Island is really significant. Approximately 900 Islanders will be diagnosed with cancer every year, and about 400 will die of their disease. The magnitude and the importance of cancer care on the Island is certainly very important. I would say it affects all Islanders from Tignish to Souris."
-Dr. Larry Pan

Pan said the proportion of cancer deaths on P.E.I. is high and is greater than the combined proportion of deaths from stroke, diabetes, respiratory illnesses, accidents and suicides.

Pan said the new linear accelerator will allow patients to receive more precise and better treatment closer to home.

"If there's one thing that a patient wishes for in terms of their radiation treatment, they ask, ‘can their treatment be delivered on the Island?’ " Pan said.

Health Minister Robert Mitchell said a replacement for the other linear accelerator is planned between 2022 and 2023. He said the new units will provide savings to both patients and the health-care system by reducing the number of patients travelling off-Island for care.

“Investing in this world-class technology will improve access to cancer care in our province by advancing current treatment options and providing new options for some cancers,” Mitchell said.

The linear accelerator was a key promise of the Liberals 2015 budget, although the initial estimate for the cost was pegged at $8 million. Money for the accelerator was first allocated in the 2016 capital budget.

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