More Than Hope for
Treating sarcoma has come a long way since the days of Terry Fox, who was diagnosed with osteosarcoma – a bone cancer – in 1977. He died four years later at the age of 22 after a valiant attempt to run across the country.
If Terry had been diagnosed today, the outcome would likely have been different, as this type of sarcoma now has a 75–80 per cent cure rate.
Because sarcoma makes up less than one per cent of all tumours, research on this cancer has been underfunded. To add complexity, sarcomas are comprised of more than 60 different subtypes, making it a difficult cancer to treat. A ‘one size fits all' approach does not apply.
The Princess Margaret has been leading advancements in this type of cancer. In the last five years, the sarcoma program enrolled nearly 200 patients on trials. One of the main focuses of this group is the development of new drugs. Under the leadership of Dr. Abdul Razak, Medical Oncology Lead in sarcoma, multiple new therapy trials are enabling sarcoma patients to access new drugs, including targeted immunotherapies.
One of these trials treats a type of sarcoma called fibromatosis with a drug that inhibits a protein in the cancer. It has never been tested in humans before. “We are happy to be the first centre in the world to do this. There's no other drug like it, which is quite a big thing in drug development,” says Dr. Razak.