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President and CEO Mark McNeill recognized for generous donation toward cancer treatment

Cancer treatment within Alberta is set to gain a significant boost following a generous donation from Stream-Flo Group of Companies President and CEO Mark McNeill.

At the Glenn Anderson Day of Golf tournament in support of the Cure Cancer Foundation and Cross Cancer Institute last August, McNeill gifted the foundation and institute with a cheque for a sizeable, unspecified amount.

The money will be used to purchase artificial intelligence software that the Cross Cancer Institute in Edmonton will use to improve the radiation therapy they provide to patients in multiple ways.

As Cross Cancer Institute Executive Director David Dyer explains, radiation therapy first begins with imaging of the tumor and the surrounding organs near it. From there, a multidisciplinary team of cancer experts puts together a treatment plan that uses high dose radiation beams to target the tumor, while avoiding the surrounding healthy tissue and organs.

Putting together the treatment plan is typically a three-week process that is manually executed. Patients undergoing radiation therapy will generally receive around 30 sessions over a four to six-week period, during which time the tumor shrinks and the organs around it reorient themselves. Patients also tend to lose weight over that time.

Due to this reorienting and weight loss, the initial plan loses its accuracy. When that happens, the whole imaging and planning process needs to start anew. Delaying a patient’s treatment as a result.

The software the Cross Cancer Institute will now be able to purchase following McNeill’s donation will help address this common issue.

Using artificial intelligence (AI), Dyer says the software can perform auto-segmentation of the tumor and surrounding organs.

“In addition to being much faster than manual dosimetry segmentation, these platforms reduce variability and increase reliability,” said Dyer in a letter to McNeill thanking him for his donation. “Using this new automatic contouring software, we can continually replan the treatment to adjust for a shrinking tumor and movement of the surrounding organs, without delaying a patient’s treatment sequence.”

Dyer says the institute has decided to purchase RayStation from RaySearch Laboratories to facilitate this enhanced approach to radiation therapy. The premier program features advanced AI power and has better compatibility with the institute’s Linac-MR radiation therapy machine, along with modules specific for brachytherapy. Dyer notes this software, made possible by McNeill’s donation, will not only have a profound impact on patients receiving care at the Cross Cancer Institute, but the facility itself.

RayStation Proton Planning Demo

A demo of the proton planning capabilities RayStation provides through its artificial intelligence software (RaySearch Laboratories)

“This donation will result in more accurate radiation therapy and lesser side effects while preventing treatment delays and improving our capacity to see new cancer patients,” concludes the letter from Dyer.

For his part, McNeill is simply happy to be able to give back to an organization that has helped so many over the years.

“I am fortunate to be in a position where I can contribute to making things better in our community,” said McNeill. “All of us know someone who has been affected by cancer, often someone very close to us. Whether it be a family member, friend, or colleague, this disease has caused so much pain in all our lives. Those working to treat this disease and the resulting triumph that comes with beating it deserve to have every tool at their disposal. It is my honour to help provide the Cross Cancer Institute with this one.”

To learn more about the important work the Cross Cancer Institute is doing, click the link below.

Cross Cancer Institute

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