Patients receiving cancer care in Kelowna are the first in Canada to receive advanced radiation therapy using the latest treatment technology. The device, called Ethos, uses artificial intelligence (AI) technology to adapt to daily changes in the shape and position of cancer tumours, allowing clinicians to better target the treatment and dramatically spare the healthy tissue from the side effects of radiation.
“The machine will be able to adjust to daily anatomy changes, which allows radiation therapists to focus on the tumour area with tighter safety margins,” says Karen Yendley, chief radiation therapist, BC Cancer – Kelowna. “Tighter safety margins means that we are delivering less radiation to the healthy tissue.”
Accounting for daily anatomy changes is especially important for patients with pelvic cancers that sit next to the bladder, an organ that can change in size and shape depending on how much it is filled. This change can move the prostate, for example, into a different position.
Previously, any adjustments to treatment plans would be resource intensive which limits how often an adjustment could be made. “The new device will streamline and automate many of the routine tasks that clinicians undertake and allow for a new treatment plan to be generated each day in as little as 15 minutes,” says Nathan Becker, senior medical physicist, BC Cancer - Kelowna. “We can see where the tumour is today and optimize the radiation dose for what we’re seeing in real time.”
The Ethos replaces an older radiation therapy unit and can serve double duty as a standard radiotherapy treatment device. BC Cancer – Kelowna staff have been preparing for months to ready the system for clinical use. Extensive room renovations have opened up the treatment space, providing a more collaborative treatment environment for clinicians. The device also allows for more efficient workflows for care providers, opening the potential to treat more patients each day.
The Ethos radiation therapy team in Kelowna, from left to right: Laura Vernon, Heather Gaunt, Payton Deibert, Francois Bachand, Nathan Becker and Karen Yendley.