Canadian Cancer Society-funded glioblastoma trial reduces risk of death by one third

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New Canadian research presented in Chicago, USA has shown a significant improvement in the survival rate of a group of elderly patients with glioblastoma, an incurable form of brain cancer.

The clinical trial was one of two Canadian Cancer Trials Group (CCTG) studies, funded by the Canadian Cancer Society’s donors, included in the plenary session of the 2016 American Society of Clinical Oncology’s (ASCO) annual meeting.

The trial found that the addition of temozolomide to a shortened course of radiation therapy, followed by monthly maintenance doses, reduced the risk of death by 33% among the patients in the trial without compromising their quality of life.

This study was coordinated by Chris O’Callaghan (Kingston, Canada) and co-led by James Perry (Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Toronto, Canada) and Normand Laperriere (Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, Toronto, Canada).

The results of this study provide the first evidence from a randomised clinical trial that chemotherapy in combination with a shorter radiation schedule provides significant benefits in elderly patients.

“Having two trials presented as plenaries at ASCO’s annual meeting is a significant achievement for the CCTG as well as the Canadian Cancer Society,” says Siân Bevan, vice-president of research at the Canadian Cancer Society.

Typically, four papers are chosen for ASCO plenary sessions and this year there were over 5,000 submissions.

The second featured trial discovered that extending letrozole (a type of aromatase inhibitor) therapy from five to ten years in post-menopausal women with early breast cancer reduces the risk of recurrence by 34%. These findings were published concurrently in the New England Journal of Medicine.

This study was led by lead author Paul Goss (Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA) and lead senior investigator Wendy Parulekar (Queen’s University).

“The Society is proud to have played such a major role in the support of these trials,” says Bevan.