Dr. Matthew Parliament, President, Canadian Association of Radiation Oncology Updates Canadians on Developments in Finding Cures for Cancer

More than four hundred of Canada's most accomplished radiation oncologists and therapists, physicists, neurosurgeons and electronic engineers will come together in Winnipeg, September 14 to 17, to share the very latest research findings and clinical applications for successfully treating Canadians with cancer.

Dr. Matthew Parliament, President of the Canadian Association of Radiation Oncology (CARO-ACRO), which marks its 25th annual scientific meeting this year, describes how radiation therapy plays a critical role in curing the disease.

OTTAWA, Sept. 13, 2011 /CNW/ - A cancer diagnosis is a shocking and disruptive intrusion for our patients and their families. Normal life rhythms are interrupted and foundations rocked by the sudden need to focus all one's energy on survival. The good news is that each and every day we are discovering and applying new knowledge that improves quality of life for our patients while they fight cancer, and often results in a complete cure.

Canada's oncology researchers, scientists and clinicians are at the global forefront of developing, testing and implementing new strategies and methods to confront and stop (or severely impede the growth of) most types of cancer.

The genome sciences now allow us to analyze the specific genetic make-up of many cancer tumours; and, highly sophisticated cancer imaging helps doctors to pinpoint the size and location of the tumour in the body. These breakthroughs help medical and radiation oncologists to prescribe extremely targeted and increasingly effective, personalized chemotherapy and/or radiation treatments.

While most people are familiar with chemotherapy - drug treatments that are designed to attack and kill cancer tumours, many do not know about or understand the value of radiation therapy (RT) in confronting and stopping cancer. Depending on the specific type and severity of the cancer diagnosed, RT is often the preferred method of treatment.

Used alone, RT can cure cancer in many cases. It involves the use of external x-rays, electron beams or internally implanted radioactive seeds to kill or shrink cancer tumour cells, and/or to stop them from growing and reproducing. RT is the primary treatment for various skin cancers, cancers of the mouth, nasal cavity, pharynx (throat) and larynx (voice box), brain tumours, many gynecologic cancers, as well as lung and prostate cancers.

RT is used in combination with other treatments such as surgery and chemotherapy for breast, bowel, gynecologic, lung, testicular, childhood and bladder cancers, as well as lymphomas like Hodgkins disease and many others.

This remarkably safe, non-intrusive, effective treatment is also used to relieve cancer patients' pain resulting from the spread of cancer in to their bones; to slow or stop bleeding at tumour sites in the body; and, to alleviate blockages that interfere with patients' breathing or swallowing.

There are a number of misconceptions about radiation therapy that are addressed in a Radiation Therapy Myth Buster information package developed by our association. It can be found on the association's web site at www.caro-acro.ca, in the 2011 Annual Scientific Meeting (ASM) Media Room folder.

Briefly, radiation therapy is not painful. It does not cause you to lose your hair unless the scalp is treated. Patients who receive external radiation therapy are never radioactive. RT treatments last from seconds to minutes each visit. Patients who receive internal treatments - known as brachytherapy, involving the placement of special seeds into or close to the cancer tumour, may remain radioactive for a short period of time.

Radiation oncologists, their colleagues and related equipment manufacturers are continually enhancing RT delivery methods and machines' capabilities to zero in on targeted cancer cells. National safety and delivery protocols are in place at all Canada's cancer centres ensuring the most-up-to-date and consistent treatments. Supporting each patient there are up to 15 specialists and staff, dedicated to designing, delivering, monitoring and evaluating radiation treatments.

The collaborative nature of our work, both in the clinical environment and in the research labs, results in ever-improving outcomes for our patients. From the new techniques being developed, such as robotically controlled radiosurgery - a non-invasive alternative to surgery for the treatment of both cancerous and non-cancerous tumours anywhere in the body, to the use of nanotechnologies to enhance radiation therapy, our unwavering commitment to our patients is to shorten length of treatment where possible, spare healthy tissue and organs, and painlessly eliminate cancer.

Author: Matthew B. Parliament MD FRCPC
President, Canadian Association of Radiation Oncology
Director, Radiation Oncology
Cross Cancer Institute/University of Alberta

Image with caption: "A cancer diagnosis is a shocking and disruptive intrusion for patients and their families. Normal life rhythms are interrupted and foundations rocked by the sudden need to focus all one's energy on survival. Dr. Matthew Parliament, CARO President describes how radiation therapy plays a critical role in curing the disease. (CNW Group/Canadian Association of Radiation Oncology)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20110913_C2519_PHOTO_EN_3081.jpg

SOURCE Canadian Association of Radiation Oncology

For further information:

To arrange an interview with Dr. Parliament, please contact:
Judy McLarty, APR
McLarty Communications
Mobile: 778.288.7465

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Canadian Association of Radiation Oncology

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