New chemotherapy lab increases capacity to prepare treatment for Nova Scotians

Construction underway at the chemotherapy preparation lab
Construction underway at the chemotherapy preparation lab (contributed)

One of the most recent construction developments within the QEII New Generation Project is the chemotherapy preparation lab. 

Located in the Dickson building on the Victoria General site of the QEII Heath Sciences Centre, the new lab will function as the main preparation area for all chemotherapy in the Central Zone (Halifax Regional Municipality, Eastern Shore and West Hants areas). It is just one component of the New Generation Project's QEII Cancer Care Centre

The QEII Foundation contributed $2 million towards the lab that will feature state-of-the-art technology and is designed to meet the predicted increase in demand for chemotherapy treatments.

Chemotherapy was first used as a cancer treatment in the 1940s and still to this day is one of the most effective treatments available. 

It involves a detailed lab preparation process that comprises a specially trained team to enter, prepare and check all medication that is administered to each individual patient.

"Chemotherapy preparation, also known as systemic therapy, is a very technical and precise process that requires the highest quality standards in place to ensure safety for both patient and staff," said Claudia Harding, clinical pharmacy manager for oncology, research and sterile compounding for Nova Scotia Health Authority. 

"There are many exciting new oral therapies for cancer patients now but many of our standard therapies still include intravenous infusions which are prepared in our chemotherapy preparation lab. Doses are individualized for each patient to ensure they receive the most effective therapy possible," Harding described.

Chemotherapy doses are ideally prepared before a patient is scheduled to arrive for treatment so that treatment can begin right away. 

In the current lab, staff are only able to prepare two doses at a time, but once complete, the lab will be able to handle twice that amount. 

Construction of the new chemotherapy lab will be complete by late spring 2020.