28 NOVEMBER 2016 / A new grant-contribution to support cancer treatment in Greece

Replacement of radiotherapy equipment in public hospitals

In July, 2014, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation announced a large scale grant, totaling €16 million, supporting the replacement of obsolete linear accelerators in seven public hospitals around the country, with new, state-of-the-art and high precision linear accelerators, contributing significantly to the treatment of cancer patients in Greece. 

Recently, the Foundation decided to support the extension of this program, adding three more linear accelerators to the ones that are already being replaced through its initiative. The Foundation’s total contribution now stands at €20 million and includes the replacement of 10 linear accelerators (including free maintenance for two years).

Specifically, the 10 pieces of radiotherapy equipment will be installed in the following hospitals as follows: 

• Athens General Hospital “Alexandra”: 1 linear accelerator

• Attikon University General Hospital: 2 linear accelerators (replacement and addition)

• University General Hospital of Alexandroupoli: 1 linear accelerator 

• General University Hospital of Larissa: 1 linear accelerator

• General University Hospital of Patras (Rio): 1 linear accelerator

• University Hospital of Heraklion: 2 linear accelerators

• Theagenio Cancer Hospital, Thessaloniki: 2 linear accelerators

At the same time, under the same initiative, through grants to the Hellenic Society for Radiation Oncology (EEAO) and the Hellenic Association of Medical Physicists (EFIE), the Foundation supports the implementation of training programs for the competent scientific personnel of each public hospital that is about to receive a new linear accelerator. The programs include theoretical and practical training in Greece and abroad, in order to ensure optimal operation of the radiotherapy equipment after its installation. 

Mr G. Pissakas, President of the EEAO and Coordinating Director of the Radiology Department at the Athens General Hospital “Alexandra”, stated the following: “This grant marks a new era for Public Radiotherapy, but also generally for radiotherapy in Greece. Now, all Public and Private Radiotherapy Departments in the country, will be equipped with advanced technology, thus providing high-quality radiotherapy services to patients. For many years, we have all witnessed the helplessness and discomfort of patients seeking a spot for radiotherapy. Once again, we would like to sincerely thank the SNF, on behalf of the Radiotherapy community, as well as the thousands of cancer patients who are the true beneficiaries of this extremely significant contribution.

Christos Katharios, who is responsible for the grant’s implementation on behalf of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, stated: “The new, state-of-the-art radiotherapy equipment will increase the total number of linear accelerators in public hospitals, while streamlining the operation of radiotherapy departments and patient treatment methods. This way, they will significantly contribute in improving the quality of treatment and, therefore, the outcome of the disease, through the new technologies which they integrate. At the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, we are proud to contribute in this way, to the treatment of a disease that affects thousands of people across the country, each year.

In Greece, the annual number of cancer patients is approximately 46,000. Of these, 28,000-30,000 require radiotherapy but, due to lack of equipment and long waiting times, approximately 24,000 eventually receive radiotherapy. In Greece, there are 3.8 linear accelerators per million of population, when the respective EU average is about 6. 

Configuration and installation tasks for the first machines are already underway in Heraklion, Crete and the total project is expected to be completed in early 2018, with intermediate deliveries of equipment approximately every 3 months.