Dr. Natasha Leighl

Conquering lung cancer

Groundbreaking Research Aims to Speed up Diagnoses and Improve Treatments

Over the past few years, immunotherapy clinical trials have changed treatment options for lung cancer patients.

“We're not just improving our current technology or our current standard treatments. We're also providing hope for people,” says Dr. Natasha Leighl.

Dr. Leighl, Medical Oncologist and Lung Site Lead, and her team are working on two exciting clinical trials that focus on the diagnosis and treatment of lung cancer – the leading cause of cancer death for both men and women in Canada.

The first study looks at how 300 patients will benefit from a combination of immunotherapy and chemotherapy. The goal is to increase the number of people with lung cancer who can benefit from this combination, as opposed to receiving only chemotherapy.

“We've made a lot of progress lately with immunotherapy and targeted therapy. This trial and other clinical trials are all part of trying to move forward to conquer lung cancer,” says Dr. Leighl.

The team's second study uses a state-of-the-art blood-based test – referred to as a liquid biopsy – to find DNA from cancer cells that have broken down and are present in the blood. The study partners with Guardant Health, a California-based pioneer in non-invasive cancer diagnostics.

Dr. Leighl developed this study hoping to convince the government of the value of this technology. It helps to speed up diagnoses and time to treatment, and could potentially even save money by avoiding repeat biopsies.

“I have patients in my practice who were told they had three to six months to live,” says Dr. Leighl. “Now, here we are

and they are still alive – seven, eight, even nine years later – with Stage 4 incurable lung cancer. Things are changing rapidly and we're making progress. A lot of that is thanks to clinical trials.”

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