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Nova Scotia Health and Varian continue to advance cancer care in Nova Scotia

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Ethos radiotherapy system with HyperSight imaging solution

HALIFAX, N.S. - A new phase has been reached in Nova Scotia’s ongoing commitment to transforming cancer care.

Cancer care patients in Nova Scotia will start receiving care on the first-in-the-world Ethos radiotherapy system with HyperSight imaging solution in January 2024. Powered by artificial intelligence, Ethos allows care teams to target tumour sites while protecting surrounding organs from potential damage.

For some patients, this could mean a reduction in the number of treatment sessions needed to complete a course of radiotherapy from the standard 20 down to just five. This is a first in the world.

The Ethos therapy system is made by Varian, a Siemens Healthineers company. Varian has been collaborating on innovation projects with Nova Scotia Health for nearly 20 years, working with a research team led by globally recognized medical physicist and Chief of Medical Physics for Nova Scotia Health, Dr. James Robar.

Nova Scotia Health acquired its first Ethos radiotherapy system with HyperSight imaging in 2022, and shortly after became one of the first sites in the world to conduct clinical trials using the system. The acquisition, and support for the world-class research program, was made possible through the QEII Foundation, the province of Nova Scotia, and Varian.  

Early data from a 30-patient study, supported by Varian and executed by Robar and colleagues through the Nova Scotia Health Innovation Hub, were published just this month, demonstrating that Varian’s HyperSight technology can generate, in six seconds, the kind of high-quality images needed for daily adaptation of a radiotherapy treatment plan based on changes, over time, of the patient’s tumor and surrounding anatomy.      

“We’re transforming cancer care in Nova Scotia by investing in equipment health care professionals need, to help cancer patients and families fight back,” said Health and Wellness Minister Michelle Thompson. “We are a small but mighty province that is paving the way in oncology innovation. We are pleased to continue working with Varian to make life better for Nova Scotians living with cancer.”

And there’s a commitment to do even more. Two additional Ethos radiotherapy systems with HyperSight imaging solution have been acquired. Once in place, these new treatment units will replace an older model at the QEII, which is due for replacement.

“Nova Scotia Health has been an important collaborator as we developed and then pressure-tested the Ethos and HyperSight technologies that have now been deployed here for the benefit of cancer patients,” said Arthur Kaindl, Head of Varian. “It has been so gratifying to see the results of our long-standing collaboration poised to have an impact on cancer patients’ access to care—right here in Nova Scotia, but also, around the world.”

Additional quotes: 

“At Nova Scotia Health, we are propelled by an unwavering commitment to innovation and patient well-being. Today marks a new era in providing cancer patients in Nova Scotia with access to the most advanced, efficient, and compassionate care. This moment is a testament to the collaborative spirit that defines Nova Scotia Health, Varian, and the broader health care community. Together, we are shaping the future of cancer care, ensuring that every patient's journey is met with cutting-edge solutions and a renewed sense of hope." 
-- Karen Oldfield, interim President and CEO, Nova Scotia Health 

“This moment symbolizes a collective dedication to progress and a testament to the resilience of our health care system. Together with Varian, we are fostering a future where cancer care is not just a health care process, but a transformative journey filled with hope, support, and unparalleled advancements. Nova Scotia is not merely witnessing change; we are steering it, ensuring that every individual facing the challenges of cancer experiences the very best in care, compassion, and innovation." 
-- Dr. Gail Tomblin Murphy, Vice President Research, Innovation and Discovery and Chief Nurse Executive at Nova Scotia Health 

“I am both energized and excited about the transformational advances in cancer care made possible through our work with our colleagues at Research Innovation and Discovery, our provincial government, and industry partner, Varian. These partnerships are enabling us to provide Nova Scotians with cutting edge cancer treatments which target the cancer more precisely and more effectively – improving the chance for a cure and improving quality of life. There has never been a more exciting time or place to work in cancer care than in Nova Scotia in 2023.”
-- Dr. Helmut Hollenhorst, Senior Medical Director of the Nova Scotia Cancer Care Program

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