Hospitals and government come together for 'ground-breaking' for Canada's first portable radiation unit

    BARRIE, ON, Aug. 20 /CNW/ - Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in
collaboration with Royal Victoria Hospital with funding support from the
Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and Cancer Care Ontario were part of a
'ground-breaking' to introduce Canada's first portable radiation unit that
will enhance treatment for cancer patients in the Simcoe-Muskoka region.
    The portable radiation unit is a self-contained radiation therapy
facility with a shielded vault room and can be constructed in a week to allow
for installation and commissioning of high-technology radiotherapy equipment
such as a linear accelerator. The unit will be temporarily set up at Royal
Victoria Hospital - until the new Simcoe-Muskoka Regional Cancer Centre is
fully operational - to provide radiation treatment to referred patients in the
region beginning in February 2008.
    "There is a lot of worry for patients at the initial stage of diagnosis.
Having the opportunity to meet with radiation oncologists right there at the
local oncology clinic, and in the future to have on-site radiation treatment
at the portable unit goes a long way to reducing a patient's anxiety.
Consultations in the clinic also help patients understand multidisciplinary
treatment decisions up front. For the physicians, this collaboration
facilitates stronger sharing of information across all dimensions of the
patient's treatment plan," says Dr. Jacqueline Spayne, lead radiation
oncologist, Odette Cancer Centre, who together with other Sunnybrook radiation
oncologists has been attending over the past eight months a multidisciplinary
breast clinic based at Royal Victoria Hospital and participating by
videoconference in regular multidisciplinary tumour boards where the care of
patients with more complex breast cancer is discussed by all specialists
    "As North America's sixth largest comprehensive cancer centre, part of
our role is to help other regional cancer centres get established. Odette
Cancer Centre at Sunnybrook is pleased to be a part of ongoing, innovative
community-based collaborations," says Dr. Linda Rabeneck, vice president,
Regional Cancer Services, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and chief, Odette
Cancer Centre. "We are excited about partnering with others in the community
to help improve cancer care. I would like to acknowledge the terrific work of
our staff who are committed to both caring for patients coming through our
doors and caring for patients in communities across the province."
    Currently, an inter-professional radiation oncology team from the Odette
Cancer Centre including radiation oncologists, radiation therapists,
dosimetrists and medical physicists is collaborating with Royal Victoria
Hospital to develop an on-site radiation program. Once the portable unit
opens, Sunnybrook radiation program staff will be delivering radiation
treatment services.
    "This collaboration helps provide greater regional capacity to continue
to improve access, and bring high quality comprehensive cancer care closer to
home for patients," says Terrence Sullivan, PhD, president and chief executive
officer, Cancer Care Ontario. "Partnerships like this one are critical as more
new cancer centres get up and running in the coming years."
    Of today's 'ground-breaking', Janice Skot president and chief executive
officer, Royal Victoria Hospital says, "This portable radiation facility at
Royal Victoria Hospital will have a positive and immediate impact on cancer
patients and their families. It's one more step in developing a comprehensive,
regional cancer program."

    About Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, and Odette Cancer Centre
    (formerly Toronto Sunnybrook Regional Cancer Centre)

    Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre is transforming health care through the
dedication of its more than 10,000 staff members who provide compassionate and
innovative patient focused care.

    As the sixth largest comprehensive cancer centre in North America, the
Odette Cancer Centre is ranked among a select group who engage in intense
research and community outreach, and who provide the full spectrum of patient
care. The Centre provides care to over 10,000 new patients every year, offers
a full range of inpatient and outpatient treatment and supportive care
programs, is a Cancer Care Ontario partner and is fully affiliated with the
University of Toronto.

For further information:

For further information: Natalie Chung-Sayers, Communications Advisor,
Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, ph: (416) 480-4040

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