Members of the Radiation Therapy team make adjustments to the cancer centre’s new Linear Accelerator for patient Lance Sheppard
Members of the Radiation Therapy team make adjustments to the cancer centre’s new Linear Accelerator for patient Lance Sheppard
Matthew Manor

Cancer patients at Kingston General Hospital are now benefitting from a new high-tech treatment option. The Cancer Centre of Southeastern Ontario (CCSEO) at KGH has acquired a new state-of-the-art radiation therapy machine that provides specialized care to patients with complex cancers.

Purchased with funding from Cancer Care Ontario, the $3-million VarianTrueBeam Linear Accelerator is one of only 14 of its kind in the province. It’s an important addition to KGH’s selection of radiation treatments, as it allows therapists to treat patients with a wider range of radiation beams that enable faster and better-targeted dose delivery for some patients, which can result in fewer radiation treatments. It is also capable of more precise radiation to treat complex tumors.

“Because the TrueBeam Linear Accelerator capitalizes on all of the most recent advances in technology, we can offer patients optimal treatment with maximum precision and shorter treatment times,” says Jim Gooding, Clinical Educator of Radiation Therapy at the CCSEO at KGH.

Patient Lance Sheppard, 74, was one of the first patients to experience the new therapy at KGH. Diagnosed with stage four head-and-neck cancer, Sheppard’s care plan included 35 radiation treatments, 5 days per week over the course of six weeks – a number of which were completed using the Linear Accelerator.

“The machine was very quiet and my health-care team was professional and caring,” he says. “The added benefit is that the radiation sessions were short which makes a big difference to my wife and I as we drive an hour each way to get here and home again. It was a seamless experience.”

Today, Sheppard has successfully concluded his radiation therapy and chemotherapy, and is excited to close this chapter of his cancer journey. He says that being able to access the care he requires close to home is important.

“It’s essential to bring treatments to the people who need them, where they need them,” says Sheppard.

“Over the last 10 years, the CCSEO at KGH has expanded our cancer space and services and purchased cutting-edge equipment to provide patients and families in Southeastern Ontario with the specialized services they need closer to home,” says Dr. John Schreiner, Chief of Medical Physics at the CCSEO at KGH.

The TrueBeam Linear Accelerator has been in use since October. Come the New Year, it’s expected that 30 patients with highly individualized care plans will be treated using the machine each day.