The Kenyatta University Teaching, Referral and Research Hospital (KUTRRH) made history on Tuesday after conducting treatment on the first patient using CyberKnife radiotherapy.
Five KUTRRH doctors treated the first patient using the the CyberKnife System, the first and only fully robotic radiotherapy device for cancer treatment launched in May.
Through KUTRRH, Kenya became the first country in Sub-Saharan Africa to acquire the CyberKnife, making it possible for local patients to obtain access to the extremely precise stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) and stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) treatments the system delivers.
The five doctors who conducted the treatment included Abdil Jabbar, a medical physicist from Accurray USA, and Ruth Wambui, a radiation Therapist and the KUTRRH CyberKnife Centre Manager.
The CyberKnife at the Kenyatta University Teaching, Referral and Research Hospital (KUTRRH), Kiambu County, on April 24, 2023.
Others are Peter Lorey, medical physicist and Radiotherapy Head of Department at KUTRRH, Tracy Irura, a trained Radiation Oncologist at KUTRRH, and Shridhar, a radiation oncologist at HCG in India.
KUTRRH Chairperson Prof Olive Mugenda, who witnessed the procedure, noted that the journey to acquire the CyberKnife started last year until its launch by President William Ruto.
On the diagnostic side, the hospital acquired the much-needed Positron emission tomography–computed tomography (PET-CT) and Single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT-CT) services to complement existing linear particle accelerator (LINAC) and brachytherapy machines for treating cancerous tumours.
“The commissioning of the CyberKnife system today is a major milestone for oncology management in Kenya. As part of the strategic plan, for the last few years, we have harboured the need to move into high precision treatment, and thanks to the Government’s support, KUTRRH finally managed to acquire the CyberKnife machine, which is a bold but best decision for Kenya in the effort to decrease outbound medical tourism and increase inbound medical tourism,” stated Mugenda.
“This process, which took five months after the launch by the President, included a dry run and the collection of very delicate data to ensure that the machine processes were accurate and ready to deliver precise and successful treatment to our patients. The commencement of the treatment also marks a key milestone for Kenya, the region and Africa in general. The services are now available without travelling outside Kenya for Kenyans or outside Africa for the regional patients.”
The hospital has selected patients who qualify for the treatment as per a criteria provided by the experts at the center.
CyberKnife treatment is an essential advancement in radiation therapy, offering precise and effective treatment options for a wide range of medical conditions, especially cancer, while minimizing side effects and improving the overall patient experience.
The radiotherapy is hailed because it is not invasive, is precise, has fewer side effects, fewer radiation sessions and records improved outcomes.
Treatment decisions of patients who qualify are, however, made on a case-by-case basis, considering factors like the type and location of the tumour, the patient’s overall health, and the potential benefits of CyberKnife treatment.
Kenyatta University Hospital board Prof. Olive Mugenda