Cancer clinical trial gains international attention in The Lancet

April 12, 2019
Dr. Rob Olson

An international clinical trial on the effectiveness of a high-precision radiation treatment on certain cancer patients, which included Northern Medical Program (NMP) researcher Dr. Rob Olson, has been published in The Lancet, a world-renowned medical journal based in the United Kingdom.

The Lancet is one of the world’s oldest and best known medical journals.

As covered in The Lancet, the phase II clinical trial demonstrated that stereotactic ablative radiotherapy (SABR) can greatly increase how long oligometastatic patients live (those with cancers previously treated that then returned in a limited number to other parts of the body). SABR is a form of high-precision cancer therapy that delivers substantially higher doses of radiation to the tumour site in just one or a few treatment sessions.

Generally, when a patient has a cancer that has spread to other areas in the body — called metastatic cancer — they are considered incurable.

“The results we have seen to date could potentially change global patterns of care with respect to cancer treatment for certain patients,” says Dr. Rob Olson, NMP associate professor; division head of Radiation Oncology, Department of Surgery, UBC Faculty of Medicine; and radiation oncologist and department head at BC Cancer – Prince George.

“It could change how we think of metastatic cancers. Perhaps in a subset of such patients, we could cure them, and should use aggressive localized treatments, rather than just chemotherapy. We are looking forward to exploring this further in our next trial.”

The international team, led by Dr. David Palma (London, ON), presented their initial Phase II findings last fall at the 60th Annual Meeting of the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO).

Dr. Olson will be leading an international Phase III trial titled SABR-COMET-3 set to begin soon, which will include patients with one to three sites of spread; the new research is expected to start within the next two months. At the same time, Dr. Palma will be running a sister study, the SABR-COMET-10 clinical trial (patients with four to ten sites of spread).