RESEARCHERS WORKING TO IMPROVE QUALITY OF LIFE FOR HEAD AND NECK CANCER PATIENTS

Head and Neck Cancer

After life-saving surgery for head and neck cancer the physical alterations to a patient’s skull or face can be devastating.

Often, patients are left without being able to eat or speak and the long-term side effects are insurmountable. But thanks to the legacy of an Edmonton surgeon, new research will help restore head and neck cancer patients quality of life.

In 2010, Dr. Murray Mickleborough was diagnosed with cancer of the jaw, the very type of cancer treatment he specialized for decades. Before he passed away in 2011, he and his wife, Janice, made a $1 million donation to the Alberta Cancer Foundation to help find ways to improve quality-of-life outcomes for patients facing head and neck cancer.

His founding gift led to a unique partnership between the Institute for Reconstructive Sciences of Medicine, the University of Alberta, the Alberta Cancer Foundation, and the Caritas Hospitals Foundation.

“This research has the potential to revolutionize the way we treat our patients and will radically change our understanding of how these treatments impact their lives."

- Dr. Jana Rieger, Director of Research for the Institute for Reconstructive Sciences in Medicine.

Research led by Dr. Martin Osswald, from the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry and Alberta Health Services prosthodontist, is a groundbreaking study that will help generate a specific type of nasal cartilage that often needs to be removed following cancer treatment. Osswald and his team hope to grow this cartilage in the lab, using the patient’s existing stem cells as well as special scaffolding created by a 3D printed for the occasion. In addition to saving patients another surgery, the tissue can be precisely customized ahead of time according to the individual patient’s needs.

A second project, led by Dr. Hadi Seikaly, will allow doctors to better track the outcomes from various methods of treatment, giving patients the ability to choose between them with more knowledge and certainty. Currently, there is a lack of data from which to make reliable predictions about a patient’s outcome after treatment. This project looks at such studies as functional outcomes for patients who have had parts of their tongues removed as part of treatment for cancer.

“Murray was about making things happen, in his professional life and his personal life,” says Ross Porter, Dr. Mickleborough’s son in law. “We’re really excited this is happening, and that there’s an opportunity to make an impact in patients’ lives through the research that Drs. Seikaly and Osswald will be undertaking.”

This is just one of the ways donors are helping to change Albertans’ lives. For more information about ways you can support head and neck cancer patients in Alberta please visit our Head and Neck Cancer Investment Priority page.

The Alberta Cancer Foundation also invests in another head and neck cancer project that is aimed at making life better for head and neck cancer patients. Dr. Rieger These projects are a compliment to another Alberta Cancer Foundation investment in head and neck cancer that will see a new technology provide patients with the rehabilitation they need, in the comfort of their own home, ultimately improving their quality of life.

Thank you for making investments that matter. Together we are providing Albertans the best possible treatment and care.

View Our Other Progress Reports To Learn More About Impactful Investments

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