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Tech & Science Cancer patient can't wait to become first to undergo 'revolutionary' treatment

21:49  09 december  2019
21:49  09 december  2019 Source:   msn.com

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a man standing in front of a computer: Prostate cancer patient John Koch hopes the new machine will provide more effective treatment. (Supplied: Townsville Bulletin)© Provided by ABC NEWS Prostate cancer patient John Koch hopes the new machine will provide more effective treatment. (Supplied: Townsville Bulletin)

Townsville Hospital says it will today become the first to treat a patient in Australia with advanced cancer technology designed to target tumours more efficiently.

The hospital's new MRI linear accelerator (MR-Linac) will allow clinicians to use radiation with increased precision and track tumours in real time through high-definition imaging.

This means higher doses of radiation can be administered to small areas while sparing surrounding tissue.

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Traditional linear accelerators do not capture the movement of a tumour.

Prostate cancer patient John Koch will undergo the treatment at the hospital's cancer centre today.

The 67-year-old was diagnosed in 2014 and has three small lesions in his lower abdomen near his bowel, which is susceptible to radiation.

He said the technology would change his life.

"I'm excited for what the future holds — it's revolutionary.

"The last treatment was six weeks; every single day we were up here.

"With a shortened treatment, there's no drama — accommodation, family, everything is just 10 times better."

Radiation oncologist Alex Tan has been treating Mr Koch since his diagnosis and said the technology decreased the risk of radiation side effects because it was targeted and required fewer sessions.

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"We can give the treatment much more quickly and a much higher dose, hopefully with better results and fewer side effects," he said.

"In theory, the side effects are the same as with a normal machine, but because we can deliver the treatment more accurately to a smaller volume of tissue, the side effects should be less than a normal machine.

"But we don't know that yet until we do the research.

"I think this will give us the opportunity to do a lot more than what we've been able to do before, and that will allow us to advance the dose and the technique that we use.

"Then, hopefully, [we can] really start to push the boundaries."

Dr Tan said there had been interest from patients interstate and Sydney and Melbourne would be getting MR-Linac machines soon.

"It's something which hopefully will spawn across the country and make this treatment available to many other patients."

Clinicians say it can be used to treat many cancers, but not all patients are suitable.

About 120 patients will be able to use the machine in Townsville in its first year of operation.

The hospital put in a tender for the machine in 2017, with the equipment and installation costing the State and Federal governments $10 million.

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