Clinical Trials That Have Changed Practice at The Princess Margaret and Beyond
Dr. Padraig Warde, a Radiation Oncologist, has been with Princess Margaret Cancer Centre since 1982. He has seen a great deal of change in the treatment of prostate cancer during that time.
“Radiation has been an effective treatment for the past 60 or 70 years,” says Dr. Warde. “What has changed is the ability to give higher doses of radiation and avoid the normal tissue. That has cut side effects dramatically and allowed us to increase the dose to the cancers, therefore curing more patients.”
There was a time when patients with advanced prostate cancer were only treated with drugs, as it was believed radiation alone would not help.
“The Princess Margaret did a major trial – I was the Principal Investigator – that showed the addition of radiation to hormone treatment reduced the risk of dying of prostate cancer by 30 per cent. This is actually one of the trials that has changed practice around the world.”
Princess Margaret Cancer Centre also leads the way in treating seminoma, a form of testicular cancer.
Patients were typically treated with radiation following their initial surgery, but Dr. Warde and his team found more than 80 per cent of them did not need it. Since giving radiation (and chemotherapy) to young men can result in long-term side effects, including the risk of a second cancer, this discovery was a significant breakthrough.
“We've been leaders in that area. Certainly, in seminoma, we have changed practice across North America. It's been a success story for this institution,” says Dr. Warde.