Clinical trials preserving quality of life for prostate cancer patients

By Maria Georgiou
Interview by Kemeisha McDonald


The Princess Margaret is home to one of the world’s largest and most highly skilled cancer clinical trials programs. Positive results are exemplified with the innovative developments discovered through prostate cancer clinical trials.

“Currently, we are conducting clinical trials that focus on focal therapy, a process that destroys the tumour with ultrasound or laser energy and leaves all other vital structures intact,” says Dr. Nathan Perlis, a surgical oncologist at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre. “With MRI technology, we are able to focus more on the area that harbours the disease.”

This process allows multidisciplinary teams of surgeons and radiologists to target the tumour with precision and leads to minimal disruption of life with fewer side effects. 

“Over the course of my career, I have seen a lot of change because of technology progression. We are able to perform robotic assisted surgery that eliminates the process of open surgery, decreasing the need for blood transfusions and scar tissue,” says Dr. Perlis. “All the positive results from our clinical trials and technological advancements is really exciting for us.”

According to Dr. Perlis, there are a lot of misconceptions about men losing their virility when they are diagnosed with prostate cancer. 

“Prostate has little to do with sexuality. Nerves can be damaged through surgery, however, that doesn’t mean their zest for life or sexuality can be affected,” says Dr. Perlis. “Re-navigating intimacy with partners may be one of the changes after surgery and radiation therapy, but energy and sexual drive should still be there.”

Dr. Perlis says that most people do not know that prostate cancer is a sporadic diagnosis, rather than genetic. Prostate cancer is usually seen in men between their fifties and eighties and it’s because doctors are looking for it and catching it earlier.

“I am most passionate and engaged when I talk to patients about their cancer diagnosis and treatment options,” says Dr. Perlis. “Especially now, since the screening and treatment process has made so many advancements.”

Learn more about The Princess Margaret’s prostate programs here.