The contributions of doctors and patients at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre were recognized on Friday, during International Clinical Trials Day, as the centre’s clinical trials continue to make advancements in cancer care.

 “It’s a whole spectrum of new therapies, new ways of delivering care,” explained Dr. Sunil Verma, medical director of the Tom Baker Cancer Centre. “Generally, most of the trials are related to better therapies and better drugs.”

At present, the Tom Baker Clinical Trial unit is conducting 105 clinical trials involving more than 600 patients under the watch of 60 staff members.

“Our standard approach, in cancer treatment, has been chemotherapy. We know chemotherapy has helped a lot of patients but there's a lot of side effects,” said Dr. Verma. “Over the course of the last decade, the focus has been how can we give less chemotherapy, how can we individualize our treatment better but also how can we use better drugs, or develop better drugs, that are more targeted, more specific.”

Roger Annon, who was diagnosed with Stage 4 prostate cancer, elected to take part in a clinical trial after watching the impact chemotherapy had on his siblings.

“I had two sisters and a brother die of cancer,” said Annon. “My two sisters took chemotherapy and it didn’t seem to do an awful lot for them.”

“Looking at a clinical trial, it provided more hope than chemotherapy and, as we all know, if you don't have hope you’ve got nothing.”

Annon said he had the full support of his family and family physician when he agreed to participate in a trial. “I felt there was no risk because I knew I was going to receive the best possible care.”

Dr. Verma says patients should consult their doctors to determine if there is a clinical trial available for the.

The Alberta Cancer Foundation contributes millions of dollars to cancer research, including clinical trials, each year. Since 2010, the foundation has invested more than $20 million, funding that allowed more than 6,000 Albertans to take part in more than 500 clinical trials in Alberta.

With files from CTV’s Ina Sidhu