Health and Community Services
October 9, 2008

Radiation Treatment for Province�s Cancer Patients Greatly Enhanced

Capacity for radiation treatment in the province is now doubled with two new radiation treatment machines (linear accelerators) now in operation as a result of a $10.6 million investment by the Provincial Government. The Honourable Ross Wiseman, Minister of Health and Community Services, today unveiled the new machines which are housed within a new radiation treatment area at the Dr. H. Bliss Murphy Cancer Centre. The minister was joined by Joan Dawe, Chair of the Board of Directors of Eastern Health; Louise Jones, Chief Executive Officer of Eastern Health; Eric Jerrett, Chair of the Dr. H. Bliss Murphy Cancer Care Foundation; and Dr. Pradip Ganguly, Division Chief of Radiation Oncology with Eastern Health.

"Today marks an important achievement for cancer care in our province," said Minister Wiseman. "Our government recognized the need to act to ensure that radiation treatment in Newfoundland and Labrador is available for every individual who requires it. Through the purchase of two new linear accelerators, we have effectively doubled capacity for this particular cancer therapy, ensuring this vital treatment is available within our province for those who need it."

The Provincial Government invested a total $10.6 million in Budgets 2006 and 2007 to purchase the new linear accelerators and construct new facilities to house them. Radiation therapy is now provided by four machines which operate eight hours per day, five days per week thereby accommodating up to 480 patient treatments per week.

"These state-of-the-art linear accelerators represent a significant step forward in the health care we provide," said Ms. Dawe. "Their capability enables radiation oncologists to pinpoint the exact location of the targeted tumour each day prior to treatment and to note any changes in the tumour�s size, shape and position, which in turn enhances precision of treatment. Furthermore, the increased capacity offered by these new machines means a decrease in wait times for our patients."

The Dr. H. Bliss Murphy Cancer Care Foundation, through its Priority: The Campaign for Cancer Care, provided the furnishings for the waiting areas and change rooms as well as oxygen and suction equipment for pediatric cancer patients, and patient comfort enhancements such as visual art therapy murals and fibre-optic star ceilings above treatment machines.

"On behalf of our generous donors, we are so pleased to partner with Eastern Health and the Provincial Government to support this important project for our cancer patients," said Mr. Jerrett. "The Cancer Care Foundation recognizes the importance of creating warm and comfortable spaces for cancer patients while they are undergoing treatment."

"The addition of the two new radiation treatment units has made an enormous difference in our ability to provide the highest quality treatment to the patients of Newfoundland and Labrador," said Dr. Ganguly. "We are extremely proud to have such a modern facility, complete with a highly qualified staff to deliver a service on par with any other treatment facility in this country."

This initiative is just one of many introduced by the Williams Government over the past five years to strengthen cancer prevention and treatment. Others include a $10.9 million investment for the purchase of 12 digital mammography units for communities across the province; the construction of two cancer centres in Central Newfoundland; the expansion of the cervical and breast screening programs; new cancer-fighting medications; and, an array of new medical equipment such as Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and Computerized Tomography (CT) scanners; and initial planning this year for the acquisition of a Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scanner for the province. In addition, in February 2008, the Provincial Government donated $500,000 to Daffodil Place.

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Media contacts:

Glenda Power
Director of Communications
Department of Health and Community Services
709-729-1377, 685-1741
Deborah Collins
Manager, Media Relations
Eastern Health

2008 10 09                                                     2:10 p.m.


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