The University of Ottawa and The Ottawa Hospital to use promising “blue light” in major clinical cancer study

May 26, 2011

Drs. Michael Odell and Martin Corsten of the Faculty of Medicine and The Ottawa Hospital will lead the Ottawa leg of a Canada-wide clinical trial that could revolutionize clinical practice for oral cancer surgery in Canada and around the world.

Drs. Odell and Corsten, professors in the Department of Otolaryngology as well as head and neck surgeons at The Ottawa Hospital, will lead one of nine groups of scientists in various locations across Canada carrying out a $4.7 million clinical study titled Canadian Optically Guided Approach for Oral Lesions Surgical Trial (The COOLS Study). The study, which is funded by the Terry Fox Research Institute, will explore a new approach to removing tumours and pre-cancerous cells from the mouths of patients diagnosed with early-stage oral cancer.

Currently, about 30% of patients who receive oral surgery see their cancer recur. The study will introduce a hand-held light tool that uses fluorescence visualization (FV) or “blue light,” rather than the traditional white light, to determine the tissue to be removed. Under the blue light, normal tissue generates a fluorescence which is absent in tumour or pre-cancerous tissue.

The study will aim to spare normal healthy tissue from surgery while clarifying the true extent of high-risk, pre-cancerous tissue identified through FV. A total of 400 patients will enrol over two years and be followed for an additional two years to see if there is any recurrence of their cancer.

“Our investment in this promising study is our response to a serious clinical concern expressed by head and neck surgeons across Canada and it has the potential to change surgical practices for cancer of the mouth nationally and internationally,” said Dr. Victor Ling, TFRI president and scientific director.

“This study could greatly improve surgery for oral cancer and minimize the risk of cancer recurrence,” said Dr. Odell, who is also a clinical investigator at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute. “It may also contribute to better care in the future by paving the way for further multi-centre collaborations among head and neck cancer specialists.”

The eight other participating sites include Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Montreal, Toronto, London and Halifax.

About the University of Ottawa
The University of Ottawa, one of Canada’s top research-intensive universities, is dedicated to winning the battle against cancer. We are committed to excellence and encourage an interdisciplinary approach to knowledge creation that attracts the best academic talent from across Canada and around the world.

About the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute
The Ottawa Hospital Research Institute (OHRI) is the research arm of The Ottawa Hospital and is an affiliated institute of the University of Ottawa, closely associated with the University’s Faculties of Medicine and Health Sciences. The OHRI includes more than 1,500 scientists, clinical investigators, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and staff conducting research to improve the understanding, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of human disease.

About The Terry Fox Research Institute
Launched in October 2007, The Terry Fox Research Institute is the research arm of The Terry Fox Foundation. TFRI seeks to improve significantly the outcomes of cancer research for the patient through a highly collaborative, team-oriented, milestone-based approach to research that will enable discoveries to translate quickly into practical solutions for cancer patients worldwide. TFRI collaborates with over 50 cancer hospitals and research organizations across Canada as MOU partners. TFRI headquarters are in Vancouver, BC.

For more information, contact
Jennifer Paterson
Director, Communications and Public Relations
Ottawa Hospital Research Institute
613-798-5555 x 73325
613-614-5253 (cell)

Kelly Curwin
Chief Communications Officer
Terry Fox Research Institute
C: 778-237-8158