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Benefits of RayStation system already being felt

A new system that will bring faster treatments and increased accuracy for Regional Cancer Treatment Service (RCTS) patients is now in use in the Radiation Oncology department at Palmerston North Hospital.

Radiation Oncology treats about 1800 new patients from the Taranaki, Whanganui, Tairawhiti, Hawke’s Bay and MidCentral DHB regions each year, each needing a complex treatment plan generated from a number of scans and calculations loaded on high performance computers.

RayStation is the newly installed treatment planning system now being used in the RCTS and Head of Section Lisa Te Paiho says the benefits are already being felt.

“The new system enables us to prepare treatment plans quicker, meaning patients will be able to begin treatment sooner. RayStation also automates a lot more, which is good for accuracy and consistency.”

Simple treatment plans will have small gains but complex plans could be up to five times faster to generate, which will save days in the patient journey.

The system also offers new technologies, including Adaptive Planning, which allows for quick and accurate re-calculation of dose when there has been a change in the patient condition or disease. This is especially useful for patients who require further episodes of treatment or for those that are having a fast response, meaning the original plan needs to change to better target the shrinking tumor.

These scenarios are becoming more common as patients are living longer, either with their cancer or having being cured of an original cancer to then unfortunately develop a second cancer.

The ability to accurately assess the dose when there has been a change is essential to keep side effects to a minimum and to deliver treatment safely. Using RayStation means there will be a higher level of confidence in the efficacy of treatment and the ability of the service to provide more individualised treatments.

This project is the second phase of a plan to modernise the RCTS, with part one being the new oncology CT scanner purchase in 2017. The next phases are to replace two of the linear accelerators (linacs) in Palmerston North this year, and to commence business case development for new linac sites in Hastings and New Plymouth. This new technology platform will put the Regional Cancer Treatment Service at the forefront of cancer care in Australasia.

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