By Sarah Lagan - see original article here >
Cancer patients are to be offered radiation treatment on Island for the first time thanks to an ambitious $6.5 to $7 million project by the Bermuda Cancer & Health Centre.
BCHC executive director Tara E Soares said the centre plans to bring the radiation equipment to the Island through community fundraising and corporate sponsorship while a specialised team will be hired to carry out treatment.
It is hoped the project, which includes building a high density, underground vault at the centre to contain the high levels of radiation, will be completed by the end of 2015.
Staff-wise, the hospital is to hire an oncologist in 2015 who is trained to deliver radiation therapy to patients. BHCB will work much more closely with the hospital as a result.
There will also be two new nurses who will work with the patients and a medical physicist to operate the machine.
Having radiation treatment locally means that patients will no longer need to travel off the Island for extended periods while incurring significant out of pocket expenses. Local treatment would cost around half of what a patient would have to pay to go overseas, according to the centre.
An estimated 18 per cent of Bermuda residents or fewer than 12,000 residents have only basic health insurance or no health insurance at all.
The centre says it already has some reserve funding available. The major fundraiser is the annual Relay for Life event which takes place on May 29 and 30 next year.
Thanks to the new facility, patients will be able to be treated in Bermuda surrounded by loved ones and caregivers, including PALS nurses.
According to the centre, most people receiving radiation treatment will cope well with the treatment and therefore will be able to continue working.
Ms Soares said: “In addition to existing cancer treatment services available on the Island, the introduction of radiation therapy will close a significant gap and will result in local ‘comprehensive cancer care’ services … at the BCHC our vision is to ‘serve the community building lives free of cancer and disease’. By working together, with other not-for-profit charity partners, we will help reduce care costs, provide a much needed service for cancer treatment and also ensure that the most vulnerable members of our community have the access to treatment available locally.”
According to the American Cancer Society, men have slightly less than a one in two lifetime risk of developing cancer.
For women, the risk is a little more than one in three. Based on the current Bermuda population, BCHC said it expected that nearly 27,000 people will be diagnosed with cancer during their lifetime.
Ms Soares said the recommendation is one machine for a 100,000 population so the machine will be operating at about 65 per cent capacity.
The centre says the savings to healthcare costs will be between $6 to $7 million per year.
Judy White, vice-chairwoman of the board at BCHB, said: “I want to add that in addition to financial cost savings to Bermuda, one of the reasons I am so committed to this programme is the emotional cost which you can’t put a price tag on.
“If someone goes away for radiation therapy they are going for at least four to six weeks sitting in a hotel room, they are only required to go to hospital for half an hour or an hour every day for radiation and often they don’t have family support.
“We now know, through medical science, that half the cure is mental wellbeing and being here in Bermuda with your loved ones, your family, your spouse, children, family, friends to support you — you can’t put a price tag on that.”