The Nairobi West Hospital unveiled a game-changing radiotherapy machine that can treat up to 100 patients a day.
The Nairobi West Hospital’s Halcyon-system, is an entirely new machine for cancer treatment and the only one in Kenya. It is not only designed to expand the availability of high-quality cancer care globally, but to significantly cut treatment time compared to other traditional forms of radiotherapy.
Prof. Andrew Gachie, chief medical officer at the hospital, said the department currently conducts 10,000 sessions a year. “Every year, this number is projected to increase. It is estimated that there will be more than 25 million global cancer cases diagnosed annually by 2030, and there is an acute shortage of equipment and trained clinicians locally. Up to 60 per cent of these patients will require radiotherapy as part of their treatment.”
The Halcyon machine looks a lot like a CT scanner, and it virtually makes no noise, said Prof. Gachie. Everything is contained inside the machine, which makes it much safer. A full treatment can be done within two minutes. This is four times faster than traditional radiotherapy treatments.
This radiotherapy machine provides more efficient and convenient cancer treatment. The high-quality image guidance of the Halcyon is able to deliver a higher dose of radiation to the right areas to target cancer precisely, while avoiding areas unaffected by cancer. “Patient information is fed into the machine and positions the bed automatically into the precise position needed. This is important because one does not want healthy tissues to receive radiation.”
The machine also has an image guidance system which allows the health workers to take an image of the area they want to treat, while the patient is lying on the bed. They then fuse the image with the planning CT images, taken before the time. This allows accurate verification of the patient’s position during every treatment session. It is particularly important for patients who are treated in areas where soft tissues and organs move with daily physiological changes. This ensures minimal radiation to these areas.
A patient who had received treatment already, Melody Ochieng, a breast cancer survivor said, “The experience with this machine is very different, it is so much faster, so much better. And of-course the staff is very professional and compassionate which were very vital in my healing journey.”
As a result of its ability to provide a higher dose of targeted radiation therapy, patients benefit from fewer treatments depending on the type of cancer. Since the machine delivers radiation more quickly this means shorter appointment times. As a result of this efficient treatment, patients can save time and travel, as well as money, by coming in for fewer appointments compared to other conventional radiotherapy treatments.
The hospital confirmed that it offers services at the same rates as other facilities with no hidden costs, in spite of their importation of the expensive state-of-art cancer battling machine. “Our Halcyon machine is still the one of its kind in the country, and we brought it in with the singular idea of saving Kenyans with cancer the cost of going to India to get treatment, not to mention the costs of travel and accommodation (for the patient and their families),” said Prof. Gachie.
According to the hospital, Halcyon is well suited to handle the majority of cancer patients, offering advanced treatments for prostate, breast, head and neck and many other forms of cancer.