Western Cape Health Minister opens upgraded oncology unit at Tygerberg Hospital

Theuns Botha

Western Cape Minister of Health

The Western Cape Minister of Health, Theuns Botha, today opened a new computed tomography unit at Tygerberg Hospital that signals an additional R6.1 million investment in cancer treatment for patients.

Following the ‘‘Ministerial Task Team of 2004’’ document that gave guidelines of oncology needs in the Western Cape, the process of gradually investing in advanced technology for cancer diagnosis and treatment started.

In 2005 the department invested in an acuity Simulator. In 2006 a high-energy linac and a 2006-Gamma med brachy-therapy equipment was acquired. In 2008 the department invested in 3 exio planning systems.

To date patients that needed 3D computed tomography (CT) imaging were scanned on a second-hand single slice CT unit from the radiology department. But with the increasing need to match the advanced treatment methods, this unit became out-dated.

The department budgeted R6 million to invest in a Philips BIG BORE Brilliance 16-slice CT scanner to help with 3- and 4- dimensional planning. This includes the additional costs for alterations to the allocated space.

The Philips CT Big Bore is a cutting edge innovation that enhances the process of detection, diagnosis and treatment of cancer. The scanner has the largest available tunnel to accommodate the patient to be scanned in the exact treatment position. The patient can be set up with the stabilisation devices used during treatment and CT scanned in the exact same way. This means that more patients can be scanned than before.

At the opening event Minister Botha said, “The benefit to our patients is that it will take less time for more accurate planning. More accurate planning will result in a higher probability to provide a curative treatment regimen, with fewer side effects to surrounding normal tissue.”

The 16-slice CT is also capable of respiratory gating. It uses the breathing cycle of the patient to gate the images. This improves for example lung tumour delineation, by determining the movement of the tumour in the lung while the patient is breathing.

With the R35 million Western Cape PET/CT academic centre that we opened a year ago, this is the first CT Big Bore in a public institution in the country.

Over 2000 new patients are treated at the Tygerberg radiation and clinical oncology per year. Last year the following cancers were treated:

  • Gynaecological cancers – 383
  • Lung cancers – 330
  • Ear nose and throat cancers – 282
  • Urology cancers – 164
  • Head and neck cancers – 114
  • Skin cancers – 79
  • Hematological cancers (for radiotherapy) – 54
  • Neurological cancers – 23
  • Pediatrics cancers (for radiotherapy) – 12
  • Sarcomas – 11
  • Thyroid cancers – 8

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