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Radiation therapy delivered as a telehealth service

SABRSAULT STE. MARIE, Ont. – Some lung cancer patients may have better outcomes faster, thanks to a new cutting edge form of radiation therapy introduced at Sault Area Hospital (SAH) in March 2015.

The new treatment is called Stereotactic Ablative Radiotherapy (SABR). It uses concentrated doses of radiation six times stronger than traditional radiation therapy. The doses are delivered with pinpoint accuracy to the site of the cancer tumour, with less impact on the surrounding healthy tissue.

As a result of SABR, cancer patients can complete their radiation therapy in as few as four treatments, compared to over 30 (six weeks), with potentially better results.

“We began using this technology at the Northeast Cancer Centre in Sudbury in the fall of 2013 with excellent results and now we have implemented the technology in the satellite facility in Sault Ste. Marie,” said Dr. Andrew Pearce, radiation oncologist with the Northeast Cancer Centre in Sudbury and SAH.

“SABR focuses on the tumour and has shown to control cancer well,” said Dr. Pearce.

The treatment is available to those patients who meet set criteria. “SABR technology is designed to treat early stage tumours,” he explained. “So far, 8 patients have been treated with SABR at SAH and treatment sites have included lungs, pelvis, skull and the brain.”

SABR offers significant benefits to patients. “This treatment achieves similar results to surgery without an anesthetic, incision or hospital stay, in as little as four treatments. SABR provides an accelerated approach with minimal side effects, resulting in tremendous benefits to patients who receive it.”

Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of implementing this technology at SAH is that it takes place through a virtual connection. “SABR is administered in real-time through a virtual connection via the medical team at the Northeast Cancer Centre,” said Dr. Pearce. “This technology truly requires a huge team effort of radiation oncologists, medical physicists and radiation therapists in Sudbury and Sault Ste. Marie.”

“In northeastern Ontario, our geography requires that we adopt innovative, effective new approaches to healthcare,” said Mark Hartman, vice president of cancer and clinical support services at Health Sciences North and Cancer Care Ontario regional vice president for the Northeast. “The introduction of SABR at Sault Area Hospital demonstrates our commitment to provide patients in the northeast with the best, most effective, patient-centred care.”

Sault Area Hospital’s Radiation Therapy facility was established as a satellite of the Northeast Cancer Centre when the new hospital opened in 2011.

“We are pleased to be augmenting our successful Radiation Therapy facility with SABR technology which will ultimately result in the provision of quality treatments closer to home,” said Ron Gagnon, president & CEO of Sault Area Hospital. “The Radiation Oncology affiliation between Sault Area Hospital and the Northeast Cancer Centre in Sudbury epitomizes a truly unique partnership and represents a leap forward for cancer patients in the Algoma District.”

To find out more about SAH, visit www.sah.on.ca.

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