Research

In addition to unique patient programs and personalized care for both patients and their families, The Centre is also a leader in promoting clinical research in brain tumors and has a dedicated facility for clinical trials. The Centre serves as a hub for brain tumor clinical trails in North America, and works collaboratively on select research projects with The Arthur and Sonia Labatt Brain Tumor Research Centre at The Hospital For Sick Children, making Toronto a world leader in brain tumor research and patient care.

In the summer of 2004, The Pencer Centre, led by esteemed Medical Director Dr. Warren Mason, was on the front lines of a ground-breaking discovery in the treatment of the most deadly type of brain tumor, Glioblastoma Multiforme. A new combination of drugs has been shown to dramatically improve the prognosis for newly-diagnosed patients. For the first time in over 30 years, there is new hope for brain tumor patients at The Pencer Centre and around the world.

Major Research Breakthrough Improves Survival For Patients With Newly-Diagnosed Brain Tumors
“Finally we have something that's a positive that's going to make an important impact on survival for patients who suffer with the most malignant of brain tumors,” said Dr. Warren Mason, Medical Director of The Gerry & Nancy Pencer Brain Tumor Centre. Dr. Mason is referring to a major research breakthrough that was announced at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in New Orleans in June 2004. It is the first significant advance in brain tumor research and treatment in 35 years, and has been shown to dramatically improve the prognosis for patients with newly-diagnosed Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM), the most malignant of brain tumors.

Briefly, this trial evaluated temozolomide chemotherapy during and following radiation therapy for patients with newly diagnosed GBM. The results are dramatic: at two years patients who receive chemotherapy have a 26% survival, and those treated with radiotherapy alone have an 8% survival. This means that for a patient with a newly diagnosed GBM, the odds of being alive at two years from diagnosis have increased from less than one in ten to more than one in four. Amazing news! Importantly, the use of chemotherapy did not reduce patient quality of life; so living longer in this case does not come with a high cost in terms of side-effects.

The Pencer Brain Tumor Centre and Dr. Mason, along with the generous support of brain tumor patients willing to participate in the trial, played an important role in this breakthrough. Under Dr. Mason's guidance, the clinical trials team at The Pencer Centre enrolled 26 patients, making The Centre one of the largest contributing centres to participate in the study. Worldwide, there were 573 patients from 85 centres.

According to Dr. Mason, “the results of this study are so impressive, we are all confident that temozolomide with and following radiotherapy will become the new treatment for patients with newly-diagnosed GBM worldwide. In fact, it is the treatment we are currently recommending at The Centre.”

“A heartfelt thank you to every one of our donors for giving so generously of your time and money,” said Holly Pencer Bellman, Executive Director of The Pencer Brain Tumor Centre. “It is because of your support that we are able to make these giant leaps forward. Together, we will find a cure for this devastating disease.”

To read about the study in detail, please go to www.nejm.org or The New England Journal of Medicine, March 10, 2005. The article is titled Radiotherapy plus Concomitant and Adjuvant Temozolomide for Glioblastoma.