A Sydney patient has become the first person in the Southern Hemisphere to be treated with ground-breaking radiation therapy using Adaptive Intelligence™, unlocking a new era of cancer treatment following the installation of Varian Ethos™ therapy at Icon Cancer Centre Wahroonga, located within the Sydney Adventist Hospital.
72-year-old Turramurra local, John Buchanan, was first diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2016, after a routine blood test found his PSA levels were rising. He was shocked to receive a cancer diagnosis without any physical symptoms. Following surgery to remove his prostate later that year, John thought there would be no further treatment.
“Everything was looking good, but over the next few years we noticed that my PSA was continuing to rise. After receiving PSMA-PET and CT scans in late 2019, I was referred to Icon Wahroonga for treatment,” John said.
John became the first patient in the Southern Hemisphere to be treated with Varian’s Ethos therapy on 2 March 2020, with six-and-a-half weeks of radiation therapy treatment, five days a week.
Ethos therapy uses artificial intelligence to plan radiation therapy treatments that are designed to deliver a new level of accuracy. The system allows clinicians to adjust how treatment is delivered by monitoring the patient’s internal and external anatomy, such as the shifting of organs or any slight changes in the size or shape of the targeted cancer. The technology accounts for these movements and allows clinicians to change dose and delivery at every treatment session.
“Although we ask patients to stay still throughout their treatment, it is much more challenging to ensure the internal organs remain in the same position every day. Ethos is like having your own personal tailor that fits the treatment you need to the unique shape or position of your body and organs on that day,” Icon Radiation Oncologist Dr Amy Teh said.
“Not only is artificial intelligence designed to allow for an even more precise radiation treatment, limiting the dose to surrounding healthy tissue and potentially reducing side effects, its flexibility also helps ease the stress many patients feel during treatment. Previously, to achieve this level of pinpoint radiation, patients would have to prepare for their daily prostate radiation therapy by ensuring that they had a full bladder and empty bowel. We would often have to re-position the patient and re-target the machine if there was significant movement in their internal organs, causing delays in the treatment and interruptions to our patient’s lives. Ethos reduces the need for this and provides a more comfortable experience for the patient.”
For John, receiving the very first treatment on the Ethos was an exciting moment.
“I was glad when I was told that I would be a good candidate for this new technology. From my point of view, receiving treatment that will directly target the prostate bed while avoiding damage to the bladder and bowel is fantastic. The possibility of having treatment without further side effects – that’s got to be a positive,” John said.