Frances Shepherd, MD
When Frances A. Shepherd, MD, FRCPC, first took an interest in lung cancer, the standard treatment for localized disease was to cut out the tumor and hope for the best, while the standard treatment for metastatic disease was to prescribe pain medication and send the patients home to die.
Cancer treatment was improving rapidly, though, and Shepherd sensed an opportunity to do interesting and important work. When the University of Toronto launched its program to train medical oncologists, she was one of the first to sign up.
Designing Influential Trials
The decision to specialize in lung cancer was, at that time, less calculated. Toronto General (now University Health Network, a large universityaffiliated hospital complex that includes Princess Margaret Cancer Centre and has been Shepherd’s base since 1975) had one of the premier thoracic surgery units in North America. Surgeons at the hospital, along with medical and radiation oncologists and lung cancer pathologists, were among the founding members of the North American Lung Cancer Study Group. It was through this Clinical Cooperative Research Group that Shepherd was introduced to clinical trials. In the nearly 4 decades that have followed, Shepherd has participated in more than 100 clinical trials, and she has led many of the most influential among them.
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