Cancer diagnosis wait time slashed by Nijmegen hospital

The Radboud University Medical Center in Nijmegen has announced that it is building three special operation rooms in which cancer diagnoses will take no longer than a day. Cancer patients will no longer have to wait up to two weeks to hear whether malignant cells have receded. 

These new operation rooms will allow the removal of tumors to be directly combined with an x-ray, and the pathologist to inspect the area around the tumor to check for possible remaining cancerous tissue without the patient needing to be moved.

This one-day treatment is new, the university hospital says. "For patients, the uncertain period is taxing at the moment" says Radboud professor Hein Gooszen. With this new treatment, the doctor can decide on the spot what has to be removed from the body. The patient will also be able to hear immediately whether all tumors have been removed, and if the body is 'clean'. A waiting period of two weeks will no longer be standard.

Professor Gooszen also says that this new treatment will eliminate the need for patients to return for re-operations or additional treatment, as everything is done at once. At this moment, Gooszen says, around 20 to 30 percent of cancer patients have to return for additional treatments such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy. "By directly performing the supplemental examination, we want to push that down to almost zero percent."

Siemens is going to chip in to supply the Nijmegen university hospital with more precise technology. The micro-MRI scanner will help pathologists determine what tissue is normal, and what tissue is cancerous.

The operation rooms will be ready next year. Patients with prostate cancer, gynecological tumors and cancer of the neck and head, will receive the first treatments. After that, the second phase will begin treating other forms of cancer, such as breast cancer. Gooszen says that it will be determined after five years whether this initiative works.

Patients will still have a choice to go back to the traditional treatment, including waiting time, if they feel that this one-day treatment is too invasive and too quick.