Radiation treatment for cancer in Kelowna is unique
January 11, 2023
KELOWNA, BC – BC Cancer Kelowna recently purchased a Varian Ethos Radiation Treatment machine, a new piece of equipment that will help patients more effectively fight cancer. It’s said to be the first machine of its kind in Canada.
“Here in Kelowna we are extremely excited for the very first Varian Ethos machine to treat patients here in Canada. It’s been a long time coming, this machine was Health Canada approved about a year ago,” said BC Cancer Kelowna’s senior medical physicist Nathan Becker.
“We purchased the machine shortly after that, but it’s taken the better part of a year to get everything ready to go … all of the processes and the procedures to safely bring this new technology to patients here in Kelowna.”
This cutting-edge technology will change how patient care is handled daily at BC Cancer-Kelowna. The machine costs about $3 million and will shorten wait times for treatment plans, Global News reported. It will also give medical staff the opportunity to learn as they go.
Building a radiation therapy plan is a crucial and complicated part of treatment, and before Ethos came along this process would take one to two weeks to complete. Now, BC Cancer says the process – which is much quicker – could be life changing.
“The internal anatomy of the patient changes on a daily basis, so that’s where this new machine really shines. So, we’re able to adapt the treatment plan each day, adjust the radiation if some healthy normal tissue that we don’t want to radiate comes close to the cancer, we can block that out,” he explained.
“If the cancer is growing or the cancer is shrinking, we can adapt for that as well, so this lets us, in a very short amount of time – about 20 minutes each day – we’re able to build a radiation plan that’s customized for that day for that patient.”
This new technology is a breakthrough for BC Cancer workers as they’re now better equipped to help people with cancer. But according to Becker, it also gives patients a much faster and smoother experience.
“It’s a less daunting machine than what we typically treat patients with, and so they’re very quickly in and out of the room. There’s less nerves on their part, it’s a less stressful experience right from the get go, so it’s been a great experience for patients as well.”
BC Cancer Kelowna has been using the new piece of equipment since mid-December, and can help up to 35 patients every single day.
According to a report in the Peace Arch News, this is currently the only clinical machine in Canada, meaning its the only one in use. However, Newfoundland also has one they will be launching soon and Vancouver is expected at get two machines either late in 2023 or early in 2024.
There are also a few hundred machines in use in the United States and because the technology is still so new, the Kelowna Cancer Centre is in constant communication with the research groups in America talking around strategy and techniques with the machine and side effects from patient to patient. A clinic in Europe also has five of the machines.