PUBLIC FORUM                                       

Cancer: looking for simplicity and finding complexity
              Goodman logo crop                                                   

Session 2: Cancer Below the Belt

Cervical and Ovarian Cancer 

New Understanding of Ovarian Cancer and its implications for the present & the future
 view webcast
Date: Monday, November 12, 2012
Time:  6.30 p.m. - 8.30 p.m.


McIntyre Medical Building, Martin Theatre, 6th Floor,

1200 Pine Avenue West, Montreal,  H3A  1X1


Sessions will be delivered in English. Question and Answer period will be bilingual. Refreshments will be served.


Admission is free, but registration is required.  Register online, or contact Ms. Annette Novak at (514) 398-4970 or email



Nicole Beauchemin, PhD

Professor, Department of Biochemistry

Goodman Cancer Research Centre, McGill University



Walter H. Gotlieb, MD, PhD

Professor of Ob-Gyn and Oncology

Director of Surgical Oncology

McGill University

Director of Gyn-Oncology

Segal Cancer Center, Jewish General Hospital

Title:  Robotics: The new frontier for gynecologic cancer surgery

Traditionally, surgery for gynecological cancers was performed by laparotomy using large incisions resulting in large scars. However in recent years surgeons have gradually shifted to the minimally invasive approach performed by laparoscopy resulting in shorter hospital stay, fewer complications, and better quality of life for similar oncologic outcomes. The inherent difficulty of performing laparoscopy significantly limited the benefits of minimally invasive surgery to a very small subset of ‘ideal’ patients.

The da Vinci Robot, that was approved in 2005 for use in gynecology, is a computerized system that allows to perform minimally invasive surgery with improved three dimensional high definition vision and intuitive surgical dexterity.

Following the acquisition of the Robot in late 2007 at the Jewish General Hospital, the gynecologic oncology team began implementing a clinical research effort to gather information on clinical outcomes, quality of life, and hospital costs. The goal was to evaluate robot-assisted surgery for gynecologic oncology surgeries in a Canadian context.

Overall, the results indicate major benefits of this surgical approach, with lower peri-operative complications, reduced need for pain medications, shorter hospital stay and lower real average hospital costs, as compared to traditional open surgery. In addition, the team was able to increase the proportion of patients benefiting from a minimally invasive surgical approach for endometrial cancer, cervical cancer and uterine sarcomas from 17%, prior to the introduction of the Da Vinci Robot, to over 95% within 2 years.

As our team began seeing the benefits of robotic surgery to patients from a clinical outcomes perspective and to the health care system from a resource utilization and cost perspective, we were emboldened to make the case for its use to patients in Quebec (the McGill University Health Centre, Université de Montréal, Université de Laval), across Canada (The University of Ottawa, St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, University of Alberta and Vancouver General Hospital) and internationally (China, India, Israel). The future of robotic-assisted surgery will evolve with the further development of the computer interface that will allow to integrate radiological images obtained prior to surgery into the surgical screen , and by exploiting real time digital analysis of the surgical field helping the surgeon to identify structures based on differences in color or movement. Pre-operative training on computer simulation of the surgery and added feedback loops are being developed to further increase safety ultimately benefiting the patients.




Anne-Marie Mes-Masson, PhD

Scientific Director,

Institut du cancer de Montréal

Head of Cancer Research,

le Centre de recherche du Centre

hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal

TitleThe secrets your tumour can tell us

We know that tumor cells are different from normal cells. But what about two ovarian cancer cells from patients with the same disease – are they similar? By studying patient samples, we are uncovering both the similarities and differences in tumor samples. This helps explain why sometimes the disease progresses differently, why the same treatment can give very different results in patients that look like they have the same cancer, and helps provide clues as to which woman might best benefit from new targeted therapies. The lecture will explore models to study ovarian cancer, tumor ‘biobanking’, ‘biomarkers’ , ‘ex-vivo’ tumor assays, and how they can come together to help ‘personalized’ medicine.


John Stagg, PhD

Assistant Professor,

Faculty of Pharmacy

le Centre de recherche du Centre

hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal

Title: Immune cells fight cancer: how to turn lemons into lemonade

Cancer immunotherapy aims to stimulates our immune cells to destroy cancer cells. There is great hope that cancer immunotherapy can improve standard of care without the painful side-effects of traditional treatments. Immune cells are like sentinels that go to work when a virus, parasite or bacterium enters the body. Over the past decade, we have come to realize that some immune cells can also seek and destroy cancer cells. However, tumors are skilled at evading our natural immune defenses. Tumors can put to sleep the guided missiles of our immune system. I will discuss the impact of our immune defenses on on ovarian cancer and present immunotherapeutic strategies that aim to restore the sweetness in anti-cancer immune cells.

 (Links to Past Lectures)