The Canadian Cancer Society has awarded a $1.2 million grant to a Hamilton doctor for his work on radiation therapy for people with inoperable early-stage lung cancer.

The Impact Grant allows Dr. Anand Swaminath, a radiation oncologist at Juravinski Cancer Centre, to lead a clinical trial comparing two different types of radiation therapy for lung cancer.

The trial will study the effectiveness of each type of radiation in shrinking tumours and decreasing side effects, as well as increasing chances of survival and quality of life for patients.

Luba Slatkovska, Senior Manager of Research at the Canadian Cancer Society, says the two types of radiation and their effectiveness in treating lung cancer have never been compared in a large clinical trial. Stereotactic radiation uses advanced imaging techniques to deliver precise intense doses of radiation in fewer treatments, while conventional radiation therapy delivers lower doses in more frequent treatments.

"The reason why it's important to do these clinical trials is because the oncologists out there don't really know which of the treatments is better," said Slatkovska. "When you end up having results in a trial like this, you can more confidently say Therapy A is better than Therapy B."

She also said that standard radiation treatment is effective 50-70% of the time, while stereotactic radiation therapy is effective 85-90% of the time but can have very serious side effects in some instances.

Stereotactic therapy is not as prevalent in Canada because it requires more technical expertise and training, but if the trial proves it is the superior treatment, it may become the preferred method.

"This clinical trial will provide evidence that will help oncologists in our health care system - and not just in Canada, but around the world," said Slatkovska.

Dr. Swaminath, who is also Assistant Professor for the Department of Oncology at McMaster University, says the Canadian Cancer Society's grant will provide researchers with the time and resources needed to determine the therapy's effectiveness.

This grant is one of the eleven new Impact Grants awarded by Canadian Cancer Society for a total value of more than $13 million. Slatkovska said the program is designed to provide stable funding for research that often struggles to move forward when it is insufficiently funded.