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Radiation Therapy Unit's Impact on Local Health Care System

732 people treated and $35M saved since introduction of Radiation Therapy Unit at Bermuda Cancer and Health Centre in 2017

Figures released today show the massive impact the Bermuda Cancer and Health Centre’s Radiation Therapy Unit has had since it opened its doors five years ago.

Almost all the patients referred for radiation treatment can now be treated in Bermuda, when previously they would have had to travel abroad for treatment.

The Centre’s Radiation Therapy Unit – which operates in clinical affiliation with the Dana-Farber Brigham Cancer Center in Boston and is the only international facility to receive American College of Radiology (ACR) accreditation in radiation therapy – has benefitted patients in a number of ways.

"Over the past five years, we have witnessed the benefits of having a local Radiation Therapy Unit, which extend far beyond the clinical benefits of the treatments,” stated Dr Chris Fosker, medical director and radiation oncologist at Bermuda Cancer and Health Centre. “First, there is the accessibility of treatment. Second, there is the reduction in cost to patients by being treated locally. Third, there is the priceless benefit of time, which patients can spend living their daily lives while receiving treatment in Bermuda. Finally, there is the cost savings for the local health care system as a whole.”

“The burden of cancer care is growing globally and we are no different here in Bermuda, which is why access to care is vital.”

Prior to 2017, between 80 and 100 people received radiation treatment overseas annually. The Radiation Therapy Unit now treats twice that many patients each year. For patients with HIP, FutureCare or no insurance at all, access to treatment has increased even more dramatically. The Radiation Therapy Unit has also provided access to many palliative care patients who were unable to receive overseas treatment.

“One of the clinical benefits that really stands out is the ability to provide emergency treatment, where the first 24 hours can be life-changing. We have treated 27 emergency cases over the past five years,” stated Dr Fosker. “Without the Radiation Therapy Unit, those people would have had to wait for overseas transport and appointments, which could have negatively impacted their outcomes.”

Bermuda Cancer and Health Centre has subsidised $7.9M in treatment costs for underinsured and uninsured patients.

Dr Fosker stated, “This helps patients to reduce the financial burden of treatments. There is no co-pay, which allows patients to focus on their wellness instead of worrying about how to pay.

“Collectively, patients have been able to maintain their daily lives for 15,000 days that otherwise would have been lost to travel and hotel rooms.

“Radiation therapy treatment appointments are typically less than 30 minutes, but they take place over a matter of weeks. Instead of waiting around in a strange hotel room, our patients are at home, going to work, seeing their children, getting the support of their loved ones. It’s impossible to quantify the significance of that difference to each of our patients.”

“It could be the 35-year-old with breast cancer who has just had her thirteenth dose of radiation before she heads out on the school run to pick up her children, the person with tongue cancer having a really hard time after their thirtieth dose who gets to sit and watch the ocean rather than the four walls of a hotel, or the grandmother who has had one dose of radiation to help her cancer pain so she can go to her granddaughter’s sports day, because she knows it will be her last one. That’s a real difference we’re making. That’s what we’ve made normal and we should be very proud and grateful.”

The local radiation therapy unit has also eased the cost of the Island’s health care system, saving $35M over the past 5 years.

“What many people don’t realise is just how much insurance companies were paying for overseas treatments, let alone the addition of airfare and hotel stipends,” stated Dr. Fosker.

“Collaboration has been the key to the success of our Radiation Therapy Unit,” stated Bermuda Cancer and Health Centre CEO, Lynne Woolridge. “Our Radiation Therapy Unit benefits greatly from the clinical affiliation with Dana-Farber Brigham Cancer Center. Our agreement with the Bermuda Hospitals Board enables us to use the CT scanner at KEMH to acquire the simulations we need to proceed with treatment. We also have a working relationship with the team at P.A.L.S. to support cancer patients who require additional care at home, both during and after treatment. These collaborations make it possible for us to successfully provide radiation therapy services to Bermuda.”

To learn more about the impact of providing radiation therapy in Bermuda over the past five years, please visit Radiation Therapy || Bermuda Cancer and Health


Click here for more details on the impact of Radiation Therapy Unit in Bermuda 

View the Bermuda Broadcast interview with Dr Chris Fosker

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