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New Zealand Unveils New High-Tech Cancer Treatment Facilities

The advancement of new cancer treatment technology is allowing an increasing number of people to effectively treat their cancer and live longer, fuller, healthier lives than ever before. When most people consider cancer treatment, they probably think of radiation and chemotherapy. While these are still the primary types of cancer treatment, the technology used to administer them has evolved significantly.

Curing cancer is unquestionably one of the twenty-first century’s major challenges. In the last two decades, the world’s understanding of cancer has vastly improved. This has revealed the enormous variability that exists not only between different types of cancer but also between patients with the same type of cancer.

There has been a surge of new technologies in recent years aimed at assisting the immune system in identifying and attacking tumours, a field known as immuno-oncology. These technologies have the potential to make a significant difference in the way in treating cancer, bringing people closer to being able to ‘cure’ it.

To address this, St George’s Hospital in Christchurch has unveiled new high-tech facilities. The Governor-General officially opened the Cressy Wing, a four-storey unit with a fluorescent imaging system, on July 2, 2021. The fourth and final building to be built as part of St George’s eight-year redevelopment includes a new maternity centre, digital operating theatres, laundry, and a medical supply room.

Surgeons use advanced imaging technology to isolate small tumours and cancer cells that are invisible to the naked eye. It works by using fluorescent dye to illuminate a patient’s anatomy. St George’s is the South Island’s only private hospital that uses the system for cardiothoracic surgery. One of the first cardiothoracic surgeons in New Zealand to use the technology was a Christchurch surgeon.

“The fluorescence feature lights up the nodules, so they turn a bright green, which means we can easily pinpoint where they are and excise them during surgery. It essentially provides us with a combined diagnostic and treatment tool, using a minimally invasive procedure,” he said. It provides patients with a conclusive diagnosis a lot faster than what would previously be done.

“Previously, we would often need to do lots of repeated CT scans after surgery to ensure we removed all the nodules, which would lead to prolonged patient anxiety and follow-up,” the surgeon added.

It can be used to identify critical anatomy during a variety of surgical procedures. It also allows surgeons to see blood, lymphatic fluid, or bile flowing through the body in real time. Surgeons who want to use fluorescent imaging technology are in high demand. St George’s chief executive said the completion of Cressy Wing meant surgeons could perform more complicated, life-saving procedures and achieve better clinical outcomes.

Transformation is also fuelled by the fact that healthcare systems are encountering an increasing number of issues, and traditional methods are not yielding the desired results. According to the World Health Organisation, there is a worldwide shortage of approximately 4.3 million physicians, nurses, and allied health workers, and care is frequently unavailable where it is most needed.

In this case, the government of New Zealand developed the NZ Health Strategy with the goal of modernising existing processes and practices to meet 21st-century challenges. Auckland is currently developing its digital health strategy, and it wishes to include as many stakeholders, experts, clinicians, and innovators as possible. This is why the government sought advice from The Medical Futurist, created a vision for health technology in April 2017, and invites citizens to provide feedback on the upcoming strategy.

The vision will guide the development of the Ministry’s Digital Health Strategy as well as sector-specific technology strategies. It is divided into nine themes that will help guide how we use technology to improve the health of all New Zealanders.

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