Personalizing Cancer Treatment
Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among Canadian men. According to the Canadian Cancer Society, an estimated 23,600 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer this year alone, and 4,000 of them will succumb to the disease. Timothy Chan, Canada Research Chair in Novel Optimization and Analytics in Health, aims to improve these statistics.
Doctors rely on radiation therapy as a first line of attack for the disease, with more than half of all prostate cancer patients receiving it during their treatment. These treatments use software to determine the ideal dose of radiation—that is, the dose that will be as effective as possible while minimizing the impact of radiation on healthy tissue. Unfortunately, the software currently used for these calculations relies on trial and error, which can cause delays in starting treatment.
By analyzing data from prostate cancer patients, Chan is developing new methods of predicting the best treatment parameters to use in the planning stages of radiation treatment. He believes including more patient-specific information in the planning process will not only personalize the treatments, but will make the process more efficient.
Chan’s ultimate goal is to improve wait times and make treatments more personalized and efficient for patients who are undergoing radiation therapy for cancer.