Dr. Leonard Minuk | Photo courtesy of CancerCare Manitoba
Every year, between 50 and 60 children will be diagnosed with cancer in Manitoba. Everything known about how to cure these special kids has been learned from decades of research. The survival rate for children with cancer is now over 80 per cent, a dramatic increase from 30 years ago. Pediatric clinical trials help determine the most effective and safest treatment for childhood cancers.
The origin of clinical trials goes back nearly 300 years. In 1747, Dr. James Lind, a physician in the Royal Navy, divided scurvy-stricken sailors on his ship into groups to test the theory that lemon could work as a cure. Some sailors were given lemon, others were given cider, vinegar, or seawater, and their health improved quickly. Through this test, Dr. Lind became the first person to officially conduct a clinical trial. Clinical trials remain an innovative way for doctors and researchers to develop new life-saving treatments.
"The clinical trials we participate in today shape the treatments of tomorrow," says Dr. Leonard Minuk, medical director of the Clinical Trials Unit at CancerCare Manitoba. "Donor support allows us to provide leading-edge therapies to children and young adolescents with cancer."
Many standard treatments which are currently offered to treat cancer have been developed and tested first as clinical trials. These studies are tremendously important because they lead to progress in the fight against cancer. Clinical trials test many types of treatments such as new drugs, new approaches to surgery or radiation therapy, or new combinations of treatments.
CancerCare Manitoba is a national leader in pediatric trials. The Winnipeg Jets' Hockey Fights Cancer campaign and all its supporters contribute to CancerCare Manitoba having the highest percentage of patients enrolled per capita on a pediatric clinical trial in Canada. In 2016, 57 per cent of our province's pediatric patients were in a trial. And your donations every year to the Hockey Fights Cancer campaign help CancerCare Manitoba Foundation fund nearly 50 per cent of the clinical trials available for Manitoba kids with cancer.
CancerCare's talented pediatric oncology team knows research and clinical trials are imperative to CancerCare Manitoba being at the forefront of innovative cancer treatments.
"Clinical trials are critical to treating children with cancer," says Dr. Geoff Cuvelier, pediatric oncologist at CancerCare Manitoba. "Through clinical trials, children get access to the most up-to-date approaches to treatment, diagnostic testing that may not otherwise be available, and potentially access to new medications."
The funds raised through Hockey Fights Cancer provide more opportunities for better outcomes for children living with cancer.