"The Linear Accelerator is not only a radiotherapy machine but it also functions like a computerized tomography (CT) scan that is also very safe for patients."

The Port Moresby General Hospital new Cancer facility will soon receive a Linear Accelerator machine to provide radiotherapy treatment for cancer patients in the country. 

This was made known during the contract signing between the National Department of Health, Port Moresby General Hospital and Varian Medical Systems, a company from USA specialised in providing technology for radiation treatment.  

Chief Executive Officer for Port Moresby General Hospital Dr Umesh Gupta, said the Linear Accelerator produces radiation from electricity which is safer for patients compared to the Cobalt therapy.  

“For Linear Accelerator, when you switch it on, you have radiation and when you switch it off, there is no radiation unlike the cobalt technology, it gives off radiation unless you keep it in a lead shielded cage”.  

Dr Gupta said the machine is not only a radiotherapy machine but it also functions like a computerized tomography (CT) scan that is also very safe for patients.

“In late 1980s when we were still using the cobalt machine,I used to see all my patients coming back after radiotherapy with their skins turned black from radiation burns because cobalt burns normal tissue as well, but this new technology is advanced and immensely safe for patients”  said Dr Gupta.  

Despite the good news that POM Gen Cancer Treatment facility will be up and running in mid October this year, the hospital does not have any Cancer Specialist at the moment.

“We have various plans for the Cancer Facility and one of those plans is to be able to provide the training to PNG Doctors while providing the service”.  

The Port Moresby General Hospital will be sending its doctors overseas for 3-4 years degree training programs and they will also bring doctors from other countries to provide training at the hospital.   

The construction part of the cancer facility will start next week Monday and it will take 15 days to install the Linear Accelerator and another 15 days to commission it.  

The Cancer Centre will comprise a Linear Accelerator for Radiotherapy, Brachytherapy for cervical cancers, and chemotherapy with 15 bed sand a 100 bedded palliative cancer ward and Cancer OPD.          

By Chrisitne KILDI
March 13, 2019