Story 73

Improving the chances for children with retinoblastoma

Dr Victor Ling and Dr Brenda Gallie

Today, over 80% of children with cancer survive, an increase of 11% from a decade ago. Researchers funded by the Canadian Cancer Society have helped make this happen.

In 1976, while working in Toronto, Dr Victor Ling found that p-glycoprotein causes cancer cells to become resistant to chemotherapy drugs. Since this discovery, researchers like Dr Helen Chan and Dr Brenda Gallie have worked tirelessly to discover ways to avoid this resistance when treating patients.

During the 1990s, Drs Chan and Gallie used the drug cyclosporin to improve the treatment of children diagnosed with retinoblastoma – a type of eye cancer. Cyclosporin overcomes drug resistance caused by p-glycoprotein, which allows children to avoid blindness and the often serious side effects of radiation.

Today, a large proportion of children with retinoblastoma can be treated successfully without harmful radiation. The Canadian Cancer Society funds more research into more types of cancer than any other national charity in Canada. Learn more about the exciting research we are currently funding.