Volume 93, Issue 20

October 1, 1999


Star's strategy angers papers

Commercialization raises debate

Bars prepare for Homecoming rush

Internet access quickens for students

Polls shouldn't be taken lightly

Program to improve cancer patient care


Caught on campus

Program to improve cancer patient care

By Paul-Mark Rendon
Gazette Staff

A newly announced radiation therapy program is promising to provide better care for cancer patients and more jobs for the students who enroll.

Alexandra Brown, media relations spokesperson for the Ministry of Health and Long-term Care, said the program will offer a dedicated curriculum to training radiation therapists. The technicians who execute the radiation prescriptions are in dire need across Ontario's cancer treatment centres, she said.

The new program, headquartered at The Michener Institute for Applied Health Sciences in Toronto, comes in the wake of a $15.5 million fund from the ministry to meet the demand for radiation therapy and cancer treatment, Brown said.

Greg Cairncross, chair of Western's oncology department and director of the London Regional Cancer Centre, said he applauded the new program and believes it was high time the government recognize its need. "I think there is a province wide shortage, but it's particularly acute in London," he said.

Cairncross explained the LRCC currently has 48 therapists on staff, but is in need of at least 60. "We'll be anxiously awaiting their graduation and then fighting over them," he said.

Brian Ma, manager of marketing and public relations at The Michener Institute, said the program ultimately helps reduce the crucial waiting time for radiation therapy. "If you don't get treated earlier, the disease gets worse," he said.

Ma explained applicants are required to have finished at least two years of full-time university courses with a cumulative B average. He added the three-year program will have students divide their time between the institute and the University of Toronto's oncology department.

Ma said the current demand for therapists was high across the province and graduates of the program would not be too hard pressed to find employment. "There are a lot of radiation therapy positions that have to be filled," he said.

According to Ma, the current waiting time for therapy is approximately four weeks, however he said the wait can be much longer, driving many patients out of the country in search of treatment.

Eileen Jennings, spokesperson for the Canadian Cancer Society, agreed the problem was getting worse and the new program would help solve the dilemma. "Unfortunately, Cancer Care Ontario – the government agency responsible for treatment has had to send participants out of the country," she said. "Anything that will help alleviate the situation is welcome."

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Copyright The Gazette 1999