Innovation in Cancer Diagnostics

The KGH Foundation’s ‘Closer to home than you think’ campaign is a commitment to raising $40 million to help advance health care, right here at home. The campaign is unique in that it’s structured to provide funding across multiple, priority areas of health care, including Cancer Care. 

KGH is home to incredibly passionate and talented clinicians who are deeply involved in cancer care at KGH and we’re proud to introduce the community to a few of them.

KGH Pathology: Innovation in Cancer Diagnostics

Filled with microscopes, autoclaves, incubators and other specialized tools, the KGH (Kelowna General Hospital) Pathology Lab a fascinating and important area of the hospital. When it comes to cancer care, the lab—and the specialists who work in it—play a significant role in the diagnosis of cancers.

A pathologist is a medical doctor with specialized training to study medical conditions using human tissue and/or bodily fluids. They gather information by examining tissue samples, cells and other bodily fluids under a microscope which gives them insight and information to help diagnose and treat illnesses, like cancer.

Dr. Dante D’Urbano, Pathologist at KGH shares a bit about his background, his work and the work that takes place in the KGH Pathology Lab.

I have always enjoyed visual inspection games from a young age, whether it was looking at a Where’s Waldo? book, learning all of the world’s countries’ flags by heart or inspecting small insects with a magnifying glass.

My interest for sciences started early when I was around 13 years old. I liked sciences in general and then discovered biochemistry and biology in college. While training in Medicine, I discovered Pathology which married my love for visual stimulation with my interest for molecular/cellular biology and genetics.

I am still early in my career and to me, the biggest milestone was being hired at KGH. It is a tertiary/referral hospital located in a smaller city and I was drawn to that. KGH offers advanced health care almost on par with much larger city hospitals, which is pretty incredible.

My wife, who is from BC, and I met in Montreal during our university studies. We shared a desire to move to Kelowna because we’re both active and love outdoor sports. The variety of activities offered in Kelowna in conjunction with the quality of life and mild weather are unbeatable in our opinion. We think it is the best place to live in Canada.

World-class care, right here at KGH

As a referral hospital in a smaller city we still offer advanced health care almost on par with much larger hospitals in the Lower Mainland and Victoria. Given that we serve a large geographical area, many of our patients must travel significant distances to get here. I think this creates a more collaborative environment where care providers must create systems and approaches that can accommodate unusual and sometimes difficult situations for patients.

With the help of the KGH Foundation, we have been able to revamp a specialized testing instrument in our laboratory. We recently replaced our Immunohistochemistry stainers thanks to KGH Foundation donors and this has very much improved our service to patients within Interior Health. Our region is getting better at using the stainers and our capacity is slowly growing with new technologist hires.

I have also helped implement reflexive testing for cancer genetic mutation testing in the region and this has shortened patients wait time to access chemotherapy. We are actually often emulated in other Health Authorities in the province given that our reflexive testing program works so well.

Lab-testing close to home, faster diagnosis

The KGH Foundation’s commitment to advance Cancer Care at KGH is raising funds to support the purchase of equipment that will decrease our dependency on laboratories in the lower Mainland (BC Cancer Agency Vancouver in particular) and offer faster diagnostic services to our patients.

Having the technology to administer as many tests right here at KGH reduces the risk of losing patients’ samples in transit due to weather or issues on the highway to Vancouver. It also decreases costs because we don’t pay for shipping if we conduct tests on-site. Finally, it also increases our capacity to receive samples to seven days a week whereas currently we are only able to receive samples destined for Flow Cytometry at the BC Cancer Agency in Vancouver from Monday to Thursday.

For our patients, there is so much relief in knowing. We know that anything we can do to alleviate the mental anguish and suffering of our patients during that extremely difficult time is a priceless gift.

The future of Cancer Care at KGH

I am excited to see cancer programs expand at KGH with the addition of subspecialty care in areas like urological cancer and gynecologic cancer that will be on par with what other, larger hospitals offer to their patients.

I do hope that our community takes the plunge and continues to support the incredible work happening here at KGH. The hospital has expanded quickly over the past decade and we need to keep adapting to the ever-growing population and needs of our region. That extra support form the community goes a very long way to improving care.

It is anticipated that 45% of Canadians will face a cancer diagnosis in their lifetime.  If cancer hasn’t affected you personally, chances are it has touched someone you love. The KGH Foundation’s ‘Closer to home than you think’ campaign is a commitment to raising $40 million to help advance health care, right here at home. The campaign is unique in that it’s structured to provide funding across multiple, priority areas of health care, including Cancer Care. Funding will specifically impact the vital areas of medical imaging, pathology and surgical oncology.

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