Gauteng Health Department, in an attempt to fast-track the diagnosis of patients suffering from cancer, has launched an advanced oncology facility at Dr George Mukhari Academic Hospital (GDMAH) in Ga-Rankuwa, Tshwane.
At a cost and investment of R36-million, the facility brings advanced oncology care to patients with a new oncology diagnostics facility that harnesses multiple technologies to provide high-quality data quickly, and creates a comfortable and calming environment for patients to increase chances of a good quality life and positive treatment outcomes.
More than 100 000 South Africans are diagnosed with cancer annually and the South African cancer rate is six out of 10.
The top cancers among women are breast, cervical and colorectal; among men they are prostate, colorectal and lung cancers.
The new machine includes an advanced Philips Ingenuity TF PET/CT – a nuclear imaging technique that combines positron emission tomography (PET) and computed tomography (CT) to evaluate the structure and function of cells and body tissue.
The advanced PET-CT solution ultimately offers a variety of patient-specific methods and tools to facilitate optimal management of both image quality and radiation dose.
“The GDMAH serves a 1,7-million population catchment area, which includes Bojanala District in the North West Province and Limpopo Province,” says Gauteng MEC for Health Dr Gwen Ramokgopa.
“I am optimistic that today’s launch will mark the beginning of an end of suffering to the majority of our cancer patients who used to be referred to Steve Biko Academic Hospital (SBAH) for appropriate PET-CT Scan diagnostics prior to specific treatment for their type of malignancy.
“This was less than ideal because the overloading of SBAH resulted in tremendously long queues and delays which impacted negatively on effective patient management. For instance, in 2010 SBAH saw 12 000 patients per annum in their unit and in 2016 that figure had doubled to 24 000. This clearly shows that the demand for cancer treatment is increasing,” she adds.
“The system was installed in June 2017, and has already helped guide decision-making for early diagnosis and assessment of treatment efficacy for over 105 patients, we are thrilled with the results and the level of care we are able to provide our people with world-class technology,” says Prof Trevor Mdaka, head of nuclear medicine at DGMAH.
Many patients referred for PET suffer from anxiety, which can affect image quality and even result in a false positive, which impacts the diagnosis and quality of care. To address this challenge, the new solution transforms the experience by customising both the uptake and scanning room to create a comfortable and calming environment for patients by using technology as a positive distraction.
The immersive, multi-sensorial experience, can lead to greater involvement from patients in their own therapy, reduced anxiety and increased comfort, contribute to higher patient satisfaction, and even a possible reduction in procedure time.
“In today’s complex care environment, delivering high quality critical care demands new approaches and thinking,” says Ntutule Tshenye, CEO of Philips Southern Africa. “We know that there are no simple solutions to the complex realities associated with oncology care, which is why innovation drives us to push the boundaries that are standing in the way of organising healthcare around the patient to deliver better outcomes.”