16 Modern Gamma-Therapy Units and 18 Accelerators for 25 Regions of Ukraine

This was stated by an oncologist of the Khmelnitsky Regional Oncology Center, Svitlana Yurchyshyna, on 6 October at the XIII Ukrainian Conference on Physical Protection, Accounting and Control of Nuclear Materials.

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“I use radiation sources in my work every day. The Radiotherapy Department was established back in 1966 as part of the Khmelnitsky Regional Hospital. For the first time, in Khmelnitsky, unit for remote gamma-therapy Luch-1 was mounted. It served us faithfully for 43 years. In 2009, the unit was finally taken out of service and sent for disposal. It was the only movement of nuclear materials in our center”, shares concerns the oncologist.

In radiotherapy, radiation is used to destroy tumor cells. Recently, the tendency to enhance the role of radiotherapy in cancer treatment has increased.

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According to Svitlana Yurchyshyna, radiation used for radiotherapy are different. In some cases, cobalt-60 is applied, in others linear accelerators.

“The treatment by unit with cobalt-60 is typical for technologically backward countries. All of Europe has replaced gamma-therapy by megavoltage therapy long ago. Last year in Turkey, 26 gamma units were replaced by 26 linear accelerators. The situation in Ukraine is far from perfect: 47% of gamma-therapeutic units are in operation for more than 20 years; 30% from 10 to 20 years and only 23% less than 10 years. Only 16 modern gamma-therapy units and 18 linear accelerators are in 25 regions of Ukraine”, says the representative of the Khmelnitsky Oncology Center.

“Today, more than 60% of sources in our remote units need replacement. According to the certificate, source may be in operation for 15 years. From own experience I know that after 10 years of use, many undesirable results occur in the treatment process”, says the oncologist.

At the end of the speech, Svitlana Yurchyshyna summed up the problems of physical protection in the Khmelnitsky Regional Oncology Center. The main ones are obsolete equipment containing radiation sources, lack of professionals for further work with sources, and insufficient funding for maintenance of the equipment with radiation sources.

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“I hope, very soon the situation both in the medical sphere and in nuclear safety will change for better.  Frankly speaking, we need more support from the Ministry of Health and the SNRIU”, said the representative of the Khmelnitsky Oncology Center.

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