MONCTON (GNB) – New radiation therapy treatment rooms equipped with new linear accelerators were officially opened today at the Dr. Léon-Richard Oncology Centre.

"These state-of-the-art units will make a major contribution to cancer treatment in New Brunswick by improving the province's capacity to provide cancer patients with radiation therapy treatments," said Health Minister Madeleine Dubé. "The addition of these units will ensure that the health-care system is able to meet the current and future demand for radiation oncology services."

The $14.4-million project involved the acquisition of three new linear accelerators that deliver intensity modulated radiation therapy. In addition, two new radiation therapy treatment rooms were built.

"Intensity modulated radiation therapy is a cutting-edge technology able to provide a level of precision never previously achieved through classic external radiation techniques," said Dr. Santo Filice, medical director of the centre and head of the radiation therapy department. "This technology involves irradiating a tumour with a radiation beam of constantly varying intensity. This increases the dose of radiation delivered to the tumour while reducing the impact on nearby organs. In addition, this is a technology of choice for treating complex cases involving tumours that are irregularly shaped or located near critical organs."

The centre, opened in 1993, specializes in tertiary cancer treatment and offers comprehensive radiation therapy, medical oncology, gynecologic oncology and brachytherapy services.

"In light of the Dr. Léon-Richard Oncology Centre's provincial mandate, these extremely precise units constitute essential additions to the centre's capacity to meet the current and future needs of patients requiring radiation therapy treatments," said Paul Couturier, chairman of the Vitalité Health Network board of directors.

Each year, the centre treats 1,700 new cancer patients and receives more than 60,000 visits, making it one of the busiest centres in Atlantic Canada. The centre also has an accommodation centre, the Mgr. Henri-Cormier Lodge, equipped with more than 85 beds for patients from outside the Moncton region.

"The federal government sees this project as important for New Brunswickers because it will help establish patient wait-time guarantees, therefore giving them greater certainty that they will access needed health-care services," said Moncton-Riverview-Dieppe MP Robert Goguen.