About 55 per cent of patients with cancer receive radiation therapy as part of their treatment. This year, more than 11,000 British Columbians will need radiation therapy, with more than 3,400 patients in Vancouver alone.

Radiation therapy uses radiation (high-energy rays) to combat and shrink tumour cells. When being given treatment, a patient can expect to be treated with an invisible beam of radiation. Radiation treatment is very specific to a patient’s cancer and particular parts of the body. Precision in treatment delivery is critical. Emerging technology can help BC Cancer’s Vancouver team take radiation therapy to the next level.  


Vital upgrade to diagnostic imaging tool

Currently, the radiation therapy team has a CT simulator that requires a vital upgrade. A CT simulator is a diagnostic imaging tool used to determine the exact location, shape and size of the tumour to be treated.

It is crucial for all patients requiring radiation treatment as the images acquired during the test defines the most effective and precise course of treatment for each patient. The CT simulator ensures that a patient’s radiation treatment will target the exact area of concern, while missing surrounding critical areas.

BC Cancer Vancouver’s CT simulator is in need of an enhancement that will upgrade its current software system to a cutting-edge, 4D system – the Varian Respiratory Gating for Scanners.

The 4D technology characterizes a patient’s respiratory patterns and monitors the patient’s position during diagnostic CT imaging. A treatment planning software then uses the acquired images to assign appropriate motion management protocols to a treatment plan. It also offers an optional visual coaching device to help the patient maintain a consistent breathing pattern. This upgrade will replace the obsolete system currently in place.  

This life-enhancing upgrade in technology will help patients comfortably achieve a very still state when having their imaging tests done. Precision in CT imaging acquisition is absolutely crucial to ensure each patient receives the most precise and accurate radiation therapy possible. 

The cost for this upgrade is $95,000.

New Brachytherapy bed

Brachytherapy is a form of radiotherapy where a sealed radiation source is placed inside or next to the area requiring treatment for a period of time to damage the DNA of cancer cells and destroy their ability to grow.

The cost for this piece of equipment is $20,000.

Surface image guidance system for a treatment unit

It is important that patients remain still during treatment.  With existing tools, verification of a patient’s position is done using x-ray imaging. New technology exists which makes use of optical surface imaging to verify the patient  position.  This would result in  less use of x-rays, potential time savings and a more accurate setup for some treatments when the tissue treated does not show up on x-rays. This system would equip one treatment unit and its technology would greatly benefit patients during treatment.

The cost for this system is approximately $350,000.

MRI Testing tool: MRI distortion phantom, Quasar MRID3D

In order to safely use MRI images for treatment planning, testing must be performed on the MRI machines to ensure that there is no significant distortion in the image due to the properties of the magnetic fields.  Distortion in an image could result in missing the target or an overdose sensitive tissue that is close to the target. In order to expand access for patients to have their MRI imaging done on MRI scanners around the province, a unique test tool is required that can be used on any MRI machine across the province to ensure the MRI images are safe for use in radiation treatment planning. 

The cost for this tool is approximately $36,000.


To be a part of supporting these critical pieces of equipment, donate today.


Your help is needed to support crucial equipment care needs to help patients receive the most accurate and effective radiation treatment in Vancouver.

To learn more, please contact
Jan New, BC Cancer Foundation