First cyclotron in Bulgaria will start operating 1st of March at “St. Marina” University Hospital in Varna

22 Feb

The first cyclotron in Bulgaria will start operating at “St. Marina” University Hospital in Varna within a few days. It will produce the isotope needed for the examinations with positron emission tomography scanner – the so-called PET scanner. This will be one of the final steps in the transformation of the University Hospital into a completely independent Center for Cancer Treatment, unparalleled in our country.

The project, which began several years ago, is now about to be accomplished completely. Ňhe first PET scanner in Bulgaria was installed two years ago, which is of crucial importance to the proper and accurate diagnosis of the disease, and consequently to its successful treatment.

The scanner is a hybrid method for the most state-of-the-art and accurate diagnostics of cancer at the time being. It allows the entire body to be scanned completely and with great accuracy (it can detect up to 1 mm entity), to locate both the primary focus of the tumor and its spread (metastases). Having done the histology tests in order to define the type of carcinoma, the team of specialists in the hospital can prescribe the most adequate and appropriate treatment regimen for the patient.

The PET scanner operates with a contrast substance that is injected into the patient. It makes it feasible to detect increased metabolic processes in the body which are characteristic of tumors. The contrast substance is a cyclotron product (an isotope – glucose marked with Fluorine 18), which used to be imported from Hungary up to now. Since the half-life of the substance is only 110 minutes (only half of it remains after this period), Varna hospital had to order repeatedly higher doses for each patient, so that the necessary amount of the substance could be injected in order to conduct the examination. The fact that it is impossible to transport the substance from the centre in Debrecen, Hungary to Varna in less than 110 minutes, the extra cost of the process and the long list of awaiting patients incited the hospital to take the initiative in taking steps to acquire their own cyclotron.

Cyclotron has already been installed and it is currently in the middle of a period of testing to ensure the absolute safety both of the specialists who will work with it and the environment. In a few weeks’ time it is expected all the world safety requirements to be fulfilled by the hospital and the production of the contrast substance to be started.

The next step in the development of the Oncological Centre at “St. Marina” University Hospital will be the installation of two linear accelerators and tomotherapy, which the hospital has managed to gain in a project. The latest generation apparatus with a variety of possibilities will be delivered for the specific needs of the patients.

All this will enable the people suffering from cancer diseases to be treated according to the world standards here, in Varna, and not to seek opportunities for treatment, worth thousands of Euros, abroad.