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Canadian first in the treatment of lung cancer a demonstration of interdisciplinary cooperation


For Immediate Release:
July 9, 2009

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(LONDON, Ontario) –London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) and Lawson Health Research Institute (Lawson) are pleased to announce a Canadian first in the treatment of lung cancer. On May 13, 2009 surgeon and clinical researcher Dr. Richard Malthaner and oncologist Dr. Edward Yu removed a small wedge from Wes O’Grady’s lung and then applied a surgical mesh interwoven with brachytherapy seeds to where the lung was resected. Brachytherapy is the use of small radioactive seeds to treat cancer. They look like metallic grains of rice and the ones used in this operation are normally used to treat prostate, breast and skin cancers. This new treatment was done as part of a clinical trial at Lawson.

Dr. Malthaner describes: “The current standard is to perform a lobectomy or the removal of a much larger section of lung and these patients suffer serious side effects like fatigue and shortness of breath which can really affect their quality of life. By removing a smaller part of the lung and adding the brachytherapy to kill stray cancer cells, we anticipate patients will be cured of their cancer and have a better quality of life after treatment.”

Adds Dr. Yu: “Normally, our respective disciplines refer to one another but rarely do we have the opportunity to cooperate at this level and offer one treatment combining both the modalities of surgery and radiation”.

After receiving approvals to do the clinical trial and researching the procedure using CSTAR’s (Canadian Surgical Technologies & Advanced Robotics) surgical training facilities, Drs. Malthaner and Yu sought funding for the brachytherapy seeds. The manufacturer Oncura Brachytherapy agreed to donate the seeds, not only for this operation but for all procedures done at LHSC as part of this clinical trial.

Mr. O’Grady 83, of Windsor Ont. is recuperating normally from the operation and plans to resume team sports in the fall: “I am still a little sore around the ribs but otherwise I feel great.”

LHSC is the only Canadian hospital participating in this North American clinical trial.


About London Health Sciences Centre
London Health Sciences Centre has been in the forefront of medicine in Canada for over 130 years and offers the broadest range of specialized clinical services in Ontario. Building on the traditions of its founding hospitals to provide compassionate care in an academic teaching setting, London Health Sciences Centre is home to South Street Hospital, University Hospital, Victoria Hospital and Children’s Hospital, two family medical centres, and Lawson Health Research Institute - a joint research initiative with St Joseph’s Health Care, London. CSTAR (Canadian Surgical Technologies & Advanced Robotics) is a LHSC program that integrates research, development, clinical testing, validation, commercialization and clinical implementation of minimally invasive surgery (MIS) technologies and robotics. As a leader in medical discovery and health research, London Health Sciences Centre has a history of over 30 international and national firsts and attracts top clinicians and researchers from around the world. As a regional referral centre, London Health Sciences Centre cares for the most medically complex patients including critically injured adults and children in Southwestern Ontario and beyond. The hospital’s 10,000 staff, physicians, students and volunteers provide care for more than one million patient visits a year. For more information visit www.lhsc.on.ca

About Lawson Health Research Institute
As the research institute of London Health Sciences Centre and St. Joseph's Health Care, London, and working in partnership with The University of Western Ontario, Lawson Health Research Institute is committed to furthering scientific knowledge to advance health care around the world.

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Video footage and photographs of the surgery will be made available for media. To arrange for media interviews, please contact:

Stephan Beckhoff

Corporate Communications and Public Relations

London Health Sciences Centre

519-685-8500, ext. 74772


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