Iconic News / 02 Mar, 2020

North Shore local first in the Southern Hemisphere to be treated with world-leading AI radiation therapy technology

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North Shore local first in the Southern Hemisphere to be treated with AI radiation therapy technology

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.

Ethos therapy can efficiently deliver an entire personalised treatment in a typical 15-minute timeslot, compared with other online adaptive solutions that take more than 40 minutes, often due to the manual reconfiguration of the treatment. John says that receiving the treatment in 15 minutes makes a big difference.

“It means I spend less time in treatment and can get on with my day. Having Icon Wahroonga within the Sydney Adventist Hospital is so convenient, it only takes my wife and me 10 minutes to drive over. To have the latest treatment in Wahroonga really gives me personal confidence and is a huge benefit – it’s quite a move forward for us.”

Icon Group CEO Mark Middleton says that the Group’s significant investment in advancing Sydney’s local cancer care follows their continued commitment to improving access to cutting-edge cancer treatments and technologies for patients and their families across metropolitan and regional Australia.

“At Icon, we have always pushed the boundaries of innovation. From providing the latest in radiation therapy technology like the Southern Hemisphere’s first Varian Ethos therapy, to bringing comprehensive care to communities who need it most, we are committed to reducing the global cancer burden through the best possible technology in our centres across the globe,” Mr Middleton said.

“With Icon Cancer Centre Wahroonga being the first of two Icon centres to deliver care using Varian’s Ethos therapy, Icon is proud to empower our clinicians with new world-class treatment solutions and make a lasting difference to patients and their loved ones for many years to come.”

Icon’s national network means they can leverage highly specialised techniques and technologies such as stereotactic radiation therapy and Varian Ethos therapy across their centres, including in regional and metropolitan areas. The delivery of these techniques includes national training, extensive quality assurance checks, and support to ensure treatment is delivered with the highest safety and quality.

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