Life with cancer: one man's dream

PETER CAVE: For most people accepting a life with cancer isn't exactly a dream come true unless you happen to be Dr Eddy Pasquier of the Children's Cancer Institute in Sydney.

Last night Dr Pasquier received a Young Tall Poppy Award for his research into controlling cancer tumours.

Current treatments try to eradicate the disease at all costs but his aim is to deal with cancer by making it harmless while leaving it in the body.

He told Sarah Dingle such a treatment has enormous potential, particularly for cancer sufferers in poorer countries.

EDDY PASQUIER: I work on childhood cancer. And the research that I'm doing, it's really looking into new treatments with a particular focus on the quality of life. So I am working on a more gentle approach to treat cancer patients.

SARAH DINGLE: Your research is going back to the start when the tumour starts to form, is that right?

EDDY PASQUIER: A tumour, it can't grow without a blood supply. And so what happens is that the tumour is actually communicating with our body and asking the surrounding blood vessels to help it and feed it.

And so I am working on therapies that are aiming at preventing that from happening and basically starving the tumour to death.

And so the idea behind those treatments is really to maintain the tumour into a minimal size which has basically no impact on the life of the patients. Basically there's no symptoms, just the tumour is there. It's the idea of living with cancer if you want.

SARAH DINGLE: Now that seems pretty radical. Are there any sort of risks I suppose associated with keeping the tumour in your body, knowing that it will always be there?

EDDY PASQUIER: Well that's something that's a little bit scary obviously for a lot of people. But we have evidence that it is working quite well.

The problem if you want that we are facing is that now we have reached about in most child cancer we are about 80 per cent survival rate with those treatment which are really, really harsh. So obviously it is very complicated to go and change everything.

The good thing with the treatments that we are working on is that they are very adaptable for a low to medium income countries where they don't have the infrastructure to hospitalise the children.

It's working really well in this context and we are hoping that you know by demonstrating that it works well when you start with these kind of treatments that we could adapt them then later on to the Western world.

SARAH DINGLE: So how do you restrict blood flow to a tumour?

EDDY PASQUIER: Basically it's based on the fact that the formation of blood vessels within the tumour is very different from the normal vasculature. It's based on the idea that the formation of blood vessels in the tumour is a process which is somehow different from the normal formation of blood vessels.

And we are still digging that to really understand what's the difference. But this difference gives us some kind of a therapeutic window where we are about to only affect this process and not the general vasculature. So there is no impact on the blood vessels other than the one in the tumour.

We have done a first trial about a year ago now in Mali in Africa because being French I've got connections with a lot of former French colonies in Africa and we still work with them a lot.

So in this particular case really in the clinical trial that we've done in Mali there was no therapeutic option over there because most of the time in those countries cancer is still seen as like the disease of the devil and they usually go and see some traditional practitioner in the first place.

And kids arrive at the hospital with really late stage disease and there is not much you can do.

And we found that those treatments were quite effective at relieving them from pain and decreasing the tumour size and giving them a lot more quality of life that they had.

And when we manage to cure and save some kids it's really a, it's a miracle.

PETER CAVE: Award-winning cancer researcher Dr Eddy Pasquier speaking to Sarah Dingle.

Dr Pasquier receives Young Tall Poppy Award for cancer research

source: abc ->

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