Dr Christopher O’Callaghan knows the impact that glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer, can have on families. His father was diagnosed at a time when the only available treatment was radiation. But now, thanks to Dr O’Callaghan’s research with the Canadian Cancer Trials Group (CCTG), there are better treatment options for patients with glioblastoma.
The CCTG, located at Queen’s University, is funded by the Canadian Cancer Society to carry out clinical trials across Canada and worldwide for all types of cancer. “Thanks to the Society, we can advance and improve treatment in a way that allows Canadian cancer patients to benefit right now by participating in a clinical trial and for future generations of Canadians to benefit from the results of those trials,” says Dr O’Callaghan.
Over the last decade, clinical trials supported by the Society have improved treatment options for brain cancer. One of these trials changed the course of glioblastoma treatment worldwide and was the first significant change in treatment in 30 years. The trial found that adding the chemotherapy drug temozolomide to radiation therapy led to a longer life for patients compared with radiation alone, the previous standard of care.
One limitation of the trial was its focus on younger patients, so it was unclear whether older patients would also benefit. More than half of patients with glioblastoma are over 65, and they don’t do as well as younger patients. To address this unmet need, Dr O’Callaghan collaborated with Dr Normand Laperriere and Dr James Perry, the lead investigator of a recent CCTG clinical trial, to determine whether this treatment strategy could also benefit older adults. “For half of our patients, we had no evidence to base treatment on,” says Dr Perry, a neuro-oncologist at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre.
This content is courtesy of the CCSRI Research Impact Report 2016.