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London researchers lead innovative new cancer treatment study

LONDON, ON An innovative treatment technology could give cancer patients new hope for survival. In an international study based at Lawson Health Research Institute and London Health Sciences Centre's London Regional Cancer Program (LRCP), scientists are testing a therapy with the potential to eradicate cancers previously thought to be incurable.

Many complications of cancer occur when it spreads from the original tumour to other areas of the body, such as the brain, liver, or lungs. At this point, the odds of survival are low. Traditional treatments, like chemotherapy, can sometimes slow down the disease, but not stop it.

Using stereotactic ablative radiotherapy, or "SABR," scientists believe they may have found a solution. SABR delivers very large, concentrated doses of radiotherapy to very precise areas, often with few side-effects.

In the newly launched COMET Trial, Dr. David Palma and his colleagues will assess SABR's impact on patient survival, side effects, and quality of life. Over the next four years, 99 patients in Canada and Europe will be randomized to receive either the SABR treatment or the standard-of-care treatment.

"This technology holds promise, in that we are using radiation to target cancers that would previously have been considered incurable," says Dr. Palma. "Although some centres have been using SABR for this purpose with promising results, the COMET study will allow us to see if it really provides a benefit for these patients."

"This trial will help establish the safety and benefit of advanced radiation techniques for the aggressive treatment of patients with a small number of sites of cancer spread," adds Dr. Glenn Bauman, Lawson Scientist and Chair/Chief of the Department of Oncology at LRCP. "Expanding the range of treatment options available and providing better cancer control for these patients are important goals of the trial."

The COMET trial is funded by the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research. In 2012, this Lawson-led study will extend to other collaborators in Ontario, British Columbia, and the Netherlands.

Dr. David Palma is a Scientist at Lawson and a Radiation Oncologist at London Health Sciences Centre's LRCP.


Contact: Sonya Gilpin
519-685-8500 x75852
Lawson Health Research Institute

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