Rob Ford UTSC

Rob Ford to begin chemotherapy for rare cancer

Mayor to start treatment within 48 hours

Rob Ford will begin chemotherapy within the next 48 hours to battle a rare type of cancer known as liposarcoma, colorectal surgeon Dr. Zane Cohen told reporters during a live press conference on Wednesday.

Ford was transferred to Mount Sinai Hospital on Sept. 11. The medical team led by Dr. Cohen confirmed the mayor’s abdominal tumour was part of a malignant liposarcoma and it had spread to his left buttock behind the hip.

Dr. Zane Cohen, the leader of the medical team treating Rob Ford at Mt. Sinai, speaks about the Mayor's condition at a press conference Wednesday. Ford has a rare type of cancer called liposarcoma.
Dr. Zane Cohen, leader of the medical team treating Rob Ford at Mount Sinai, tells a press conference Wednesday that Ford has a rare type of cancer called liposarcoma. (Sana Fatani)

Cohen said Ford’s treatment will involve three days of chemotherapy followed by a washout period of 18 days after which the cycle will be repeated. He said he’s optimistic, but that the team has to wait and see the results when Ford comes back from treatment.

“There may or may not be radiation, there may or may not be surgery, depending on the response to the initial treatment,” he said.

Cohen said liposarcoma comprises only one per cent of all known cancers. He said it was so rare he couldn’t provide any success rates for the treatment.

“We have experts sitting in house that treat, manage and research sarcoma, we have the largest of the three sarcoma centres in Ontario,” Cohen said. “This particular liposarcoma,(pleomorphic) is more sensitive to chemotherapy than most sarcomas.”

Cohen said it usually takes several years for a tumour to grow to that size of Ford’s (12cm by 12cm), but that there were no signs of the tumour in 2011, when Rob Ford went in for a CT scan.

“It’s fairly aggressive, but we are treating it very aggressively in order to eradicate the tumor,” Cohen said.

Cohen said that the chemotherapy may very well be enough to treat the tumor. He hopes that it will at least shrink it enough to operate on it.

Olivia Chow speaks to reporters outside of City Hall about Ford's condition shortly after the press conference.
Olivia Chow speaks to reporters outside of City Hall about Ford’s condition shortly after the medical press conference. (Sana Fatani)

Shortly after the conference at Mt. Sinai ended, mayoral candidates John Tory and Olivia Chow spoke to the media about Rob Ford’s condition behind City Hall.

“My thoughts and prayers are with Rob Ford and his family,” Chow said. ”I know Rob Ford is a fighter and he’s determined.”