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Bermuda cancer care advance

In a first for Bermuda, local cancer patients should be getting crucial treatment on the island by the middle of next year.

The contract, signed yesterday by the Bermuda Cancer and Health Centre with the company Varian Medical Systems, approved the centre to receive the multimillion-dollar Truebeam, a highly advanced radiation therapy device.

Tara Curtis, the centre's executive director, estimated that the service could bring about a 20 to 50 per cent savings on what was being spent overseas for the treatment.

The average patient can be off the island for four to seven weeks, she said — and Bermuda's centre does not seek to generate profits.

Radiation therapy, used to destroy tumours, is typically sought by Bermudians in hospitals such as the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.

Chris Fosker, a clinical oncologist for the Bermuda Hospitals Board, is also an affiliate member of staff at dana-Farber, as well as the Bermuda consultant for Brigham and Women's Hospital.

Dr Fosker said that about 180 local residents a year should receive radiation treatment, although fewer do — but with 90 to 100 having to leave the island annually for therapy, the acquisition of a Truebeam represented a significant step for Bermuda.

With the new technology on the same level as that of the Boston centres, Bermuda will have streamlined collaboration with “one of the best cancer institutes in the world”, Dr Fosker said.

The Truebeam can be used against radiation-treatable cancers in any area of the body, and having the service in Bermuda will allow patients to continue their lives while undergoing treatment.

It also comes with practical benefits, such as no copay.

Meanwhile, remote maintenance would ensure that the technology could be kept in good working order.

Asked if the centre would be looking to acquire other equipment, Ms Curtis said the comprehensive treatment delivered by the Truebeam meant that the centre would not need to bring in additional technology.

Calling it “a very important milestone”, Dr Fosker added: “We have the best machine for the island — one of the best available worldwide.”

First for Bermuda: pictured, from left, are Judy White and Tara Curtis of the Bermuda Cancer and Health Centre signing the contract with Alexis Irizarry of Varian Medical Systems (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

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Published August 17, 2016 at 9:00 am (Updated August 17, 2016 at 8:02 am)

Bermuda cancer care advance

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