Advancing Regional Cancer Diagnostics



Every year, dozens of patients arrive at Kelowna General Hospital’s Emergency Department (ED) feeling very unwell and following initial diagnostics, are admitted to the hospital with suspected lymphoma.

For anyone who has ever found themselves waiting for pathology results, the wait is excruciating. Unbearable. Every moment seems like an eternity. In the case of suspected lymphoma, the biopsy tissue must be sent to Vancouver, and a definitive answer may not be possible for several days.

Now, thanks to the generosity of a significant family estate gift, patients from across the southern interior will get the answers they need within a few hours. The gift funded the purchase of two new IHC (immunohistochemistry) stainer instruments for the KGH Pathology Lab.

Immunohistochemistry (IHC): A valuable process used to diagnose some types of cancer.

The procedure involves locating antigens in sampled tissue through the use of a visual marker (i.e., an antibody with attached dye). It helps in the classification of a tumour, and can also distinguish whether a tumour is benign or malignant.

“IHC stainers are specialized instruments used to characterize cancer cells primarily, but also perform tests for diseases other than cancer,” says Dr. Dante D’Urbano, a Pathologist at KGH. “Our IHC stainers had limited capacity with only 30 slides for testing. The new machines can test against 60 slides each at one time. This significantly shortens the testing time – and ultimately – patient diagnosis delays.”

The new IHC stainer models also include the technology and capacity to detect biomarkers that were previously unavailable with the outdated equipment in Pathology. The only option Dr. D’Urbano and his colleagues across the Interior Health region had was to send the samples to the BC Cancer Agency (BCCA) in Vancouver… up to 25 every day! This prolonged diagnosis and treatment planning due to the five to seven day wait for results whereas if performed on-site, the results would be available a few days (or hours, in an emergency situation).

“The library of stains in the KGH Pathology Lab was limited to only 50 antibodies whereas other sites have 250. This is akin to attempting a 250-piece puzzle with only 50 pieces.”

– Dr. Dante D’Urbano

“The new IHC stainers significantly expand our antibody menu and reduce the need to send samples to Vancouver, ” says Dr. D’Urbano. “This has a huge impact for our patients. It greatly accelerates our ability to present a diagnosis for close to 100% of our cases. ”

KGH IHC stainers serve nearly the entire Interior BC population. Given the significant population boom in the region over the last 10 years, the volume that the outdated IHC stainers could handle was at its limit.

One of the two new IHC Stainers in the KGH Pathology Lab

The new instruments allow the KGH Pathology Lab to double its capacity.

Given that most cases requiring IHC stainers are cancer cases, every day counts in getting access to treatment for patients.

“It’s more than just test results,” Dr. D’Urbano explains. “For our patients, there is so much relief in knowing. Anything we can do to alleviate the mental anguish and suffering of our patients during that extremely difficult time is truly a priceless gift. We are grateful to the family who chose to make a gift in their Will to improve patient care in this way. Thank you.”


It’s all about taking care.

Taking care of your heirs. Taking care of your community’s health care. Taking care of your own peace of mind.

You can change healthcare with a charitable gift in your Will, while still supporting those you love.

When you are planning how to donate, our team is here to provide expertise and leadership.

To learn more about KGH Foundation gift planning options, including leaving a gift in your Will, please contact Colleen Cowman, our Director of Planned Giving, at 250-862-4300 x. 27011 or

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