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Cancer trial at Greater Victoria hospital gives researcher hope

Part of the research saw BC Cancer incorporating Artificial Intelligence
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Doctor Abraham Alexander is excited about the latest cancer research at Royal Jubilee Hospital and said the advanced treatments could prolong life by five to 10 years. (Photo Submitted/ BC Cancer Foundation)

The BC Cancer Foundation is conducting a trial at BC Cancer Victoria to reduce prostate cancer radiation therapy visits from five to two, starting in Dec. 2024.

“I can’t overstate how much progress has been made,” said Doctor Abraham Alexander, a radiation oncologist at BC Cancer Victoria. “It really is fantastic to see.”

In Alexander’s 18 years at BC Cancer, a lot of progress has been made in cancer diagnosis, and the treatment options for even the most dangerous have improved.

“People, particularly with prostate cancer, and melanoma, lung cancer, survival rates, are just so much better,” he said. “When I started, you know, people with melanoma that spread often didn’t live very long, with survival rates of like a year.”

BC Cancer had completed research that initially saw the number of visits for chemo from over 20 to five, according to Alexander.

“We were able to give the treatment in five treatments with as little or even fewer side effects as the standard treatment,” he said.

The new trial will run for eight years, and according to Alexander, there are plenty of reasons to be excited about the latest research.

“Many of these patients, with our advanced treatments, live five or 10 years more.”

Alexander works alongside a team of six oncologists, two or three medical physicists, 10 radiation therapists and four or five nurses at BC Cancer Victoria.

“It ends up being quite a large team because it takes a lot of expertise and different disciplines to deliver these treatments.”

Alexander’s research was only possible with community engagement, and he said he is fortunate to have the support he has in Victoria.

The trials are randomized, and patients undergoing standard treatments can be allowed to participate in the clinical trials offered by BC Cancer.

“We couldn’t make our humans better without people enrolling in trials, and clinical trials are a really important part of what we do,” he said.

Part of the research saw BC Cancer incorporating Artificial Intelligence (AI) that would allow researchers to assess the amount of radiation that is being delivered into the body, Alexander said.

“We’re hoping by applying AI to target the radiation better, we’ll be able to, you know, further reduce the side effects of the treatment.”

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