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Photo of Dr. Anthony Nichols and Dr. David Palma


Many people know that cancer treatment can have long-term side effects that affect quality of life. But did you know that donors like you helped fund a clinical trial that is helping to change that?

“Of all the cancers, head and neck cancers probably have the highest impact on quality of life because they can affect things that are central to a person’s sense of self – their ability to swallow, their voice and facial appearance,” says cancer surgeon and researcher Dr Anthony Nichols.

“When the side effects of treatment change your voice and take away your ability to eat a meal with your family and friends, it can have an impact on who you are. So even though the cure rates for certain head and neck cancers are relatively high, quality of life can be profoundly affected.”

Together with Dr David Palma, Dr Nichols set out to compare robotic surgery to radiation treatment for cancers of the tonsil and back of the tongue to see which approach led to fewer side effects later on. His study showed that while both surgery and radiation are equally effective, radiation leads to fewer swallowing-related side effects and less pain, resulting in improved quality of life for patients.

This research has the potential to help doctors and patients make informed choices about their treatment – and may even change treatment practice around the world.

“This study is arguably the highest impact, Canadian-led clinical trial for head and neck cancers that’s ever been published,” says Dr Nichols.

When you give a gift to fund clinical trials, you are helping to move innovative research to the next phase of testing – which means that new promising treatments are one step closer for everyone.   

“We’re grateful to CCS for recognizing the innovative potential of this study, and to CCS donors for making it possible,” says Dr Nichols. “Thank you so much for your support.”

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