Faculty Members

Dr. Katia Tonkin


Department of Oncology

Division of Medical Oncology
    Contact details are for academic matters only.

About Me

Treatment of Breast Cancer
Treatment of early stage and advanced disease with hormones and chemotherapy.
Clinical Trials in early and advanced stage breast cancer.
My main focus is in Phase III Clinical Trials. I have however completed a Phase I trial of an oral taxane in solid tumors which was a first for the medical oncology group.
I am a member of the Northern Alberta Breast Cancer Team. I treat early stage locally advanced and metastatic disease. Our focus is on clinical trials in all stages of disease especially Phase III trials.
I am a member of the gyn oncology team with a special interest in new drugs and new drug combination trials in gyn oncology. Over the last two years or so, we have improved our clinical trial accrual so we can offer patients new treatment options on study. In addition, we can gain experience in new therapies which is where the future for gyn malignancies are going especially for ovarian cancer. We are currently involved in several innovative studies of compounds with novel action against cancer cells.
I have a strong interest in teaching for health professionals and for patient education.
My main administrative responsibility is as NCIC Clinical Trials Group Centre Representative. I have been invited to be on an executive committee of centre representatives just formed in 2008. I oversee the over 20 trials that NCIC-CTG undertakes at any period in time and am responsible for the six clinical trial staff in the group. I work closely with the Clinical Trials Unit (CTU) on trial related issues that affect the NCIC group.
I have other administrative responsibilities and represent the department of medical oncology on several committees.


My main focus is in Phase III Clinical Trials. I am actively involved in the design, development and recruitment of patients to trials in early stage, locally advanced and metastatic carcinoma of the breast as well as ovarian cancer and endometrial cancer.
I co-edited the 2nd edition book "Breast Cancer Management: Applications of Clinical and Translation Evidence to Patient Care". This remains a therapy-based book dedicated to bringing the evidence to clinicians and allowing them to decide which treatment to use. It also has extensive new translational chapters. It was published by Lippincott-Williams & Wilkins in December 2003.
I was principal investigator of the first phase I study being done at the Cross Cancer Institute. It was of an oral taxane from Bayer as third-line treatment for metastatic breast cancer or as treatment for solid tumors with no standard therapy.
I have developed several protocols using PET scanning in breast cancer. The first was to study hormone resistant patients using an estrogen radiopharmaceutical to examine whether ER positive or ER negative cells were chemosensitive. The second was to study the role of PET scanning in locoregional recurrence and arm edema. PET scanning was compared to standard CT and MRI. We have shown that PET offers a potentially more accurate way to diagnose local recurrence compared to either CT or MRI. Thirdly we developed a protocol which has ABCRI funding to look at the role of PET scanning determining hormone sensitivity in ER positive metastatic breast cancer which is ongoing. I have also developed a protocol to look at hypoxia (lack of oxygen) in breast cancers prior to surgery. We will compare PET results to the pathology data we get at the time of surgery and whether PET scanning can give us information that could change adjuvant therapy options.
Rank ligand antibody therapy is being brought into the treatment of bone metastases. The phase II study was completed and published in Journal of Clincial Oncology fall 2007. I have been involved in Canadian and International initiatives to bring these studies into a Phase III program and into adjuvant treatment. The Phase III metastatic study has recently (January 2008) closed to accrual. I have been involved in a global advisory board discussing the next steps for the compound denosumab.
I am involved in a new Phase I study for solid tumors looking at the anti-VEGF compound Sorafenib in combination with liposomal doxorubicin. This is ready for accrual March 2008. I am involved with a new study for both breast and ovarian cancer using a novel compound (PARP inhibitor) which will be open likely May 2008. I will be the institutional PI and on the NCIC-CTG committee for the metastatic trial of bevazicumab in metastatic breast cancer that will open June-July 2008.