San Juan Regional Cancer Center’s new state-of-the-art equipment ready to treat more patients

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FARMINGTON, N.M. – October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and coinciding with it San Juan Regional Cancer Center has reopened its doors for the first time since May with some new cancer-fighting additions.

The hospital invested $5 million into technology that can pinpoint the earliest stages of cancers and small tumors.

Inside the hospital, there is a control room that monitors a rotating machine, with bright laser beams, it all looks like a scene from Space Odyssey, but it’s actually the newest cancer-fighting technology in the region. And the center is one of the first hospitals west of the Rockies to have it.   

“We replaced our CT and we also replaced linear accelerator, between the two of them we will have a lot more capabilities to treat more precise types of cancers,” Chelsea Page-Robertson, medical physicist for the center said. 

This machine is like a “cyber knife.”

“So this is our 5 millimeter sized cone so it’s basically milled out to be exactly 5 millimeters and they are very heavy. They basically lock in like that and that’s how we would treat those, the smallest of tumors,” said Robertson.

Down to 5 millimeters in size, Robertson said it’s something the hospital wasn’t previously able to do

“You’re limited by the tools that are within this column-head and before they were a little bit bigger so you couldn’t really narrow it down what we would be able to do now,” Robertson said.  

Now more patients will be able to receive care.

“With this equipment, we’ll be able to treat pretty much anyone who walks through our door,” said Robertson.

The cancer center is hoping this new technology will give the community a little bit of comfort knowing it’s right in their backyard.

“They need to be in the same position using the same machine. So, you know it’s really important that we create a facility where these patients can come in everyday and they don’t need to drive three hours every day or drive to Albuquerque and stay there for the entire course of their treatment they can stay at home,” Robertson said.

The cancer center is now open, and scheduling initial appointments as soon as Wednesday.