Vancouver, B.C. – The Personalized Onco-Genomics (POG) Program at the BC Cancer Agency has identified a life-altering treatment option for a patient with advanced cancer.

POG has given Trish Keating a new reason to hope as the genomic sequencing of her aggressive colorectal cancer identified a unique protein function at play. This critical detail pointed to an outside-of-the-box treatment option, which has dramatically reduced her cancer to barely detectable in just weeks.

With BC Cancer Foundation funding, the BC Cancer Agency set forth with a world-leading clinical study as POG began integrating genomic sequencing into patient care and clinical decision-making for 30 individuals with advanced and hard-to-treat cancers. With an additional $5 million raised through the BC Cancer Foundation’s 2014 Inspiration Gala presented by Encana, POG is expanding and will enroll 300 patients with incurable cancers.

Trish, a vibrant mother of a 27-year-old son and former costume designer in the film industry, has been through the gamut of treatments for her aggressive colorectal cancer. Over the past five years she has weathered; chemotherapy, three complicated surgeries and radiation therapy.

She had been given a “two-year sentence,” her description for the terminal stage of disease. When her medical oncologist, Dr. Howard Lim, at the BC Cancer Agency, introduced the option of enrolling in POG, Trish says:

“I didn’t care what it entailed, I thought, ‘bring it on.’”

Dr. Lim describes her results as unique, as a number of patients with seemingly similar advanced colorectal cancer do not have the same degree of protein “up-regulation” that’s driving Trish’s cancer. The protein function is a critical piece of knowledge in her care as there’s a drug on the market—commonly used to treat high blood pressure—that targets the protein.

“I noticed a big change in my energy about a week after starting to take the drug,” says Trish. Her husband John Givins echoes the dramatic improvement, as he spent the past year caring for his wife and helping her through excruciating pain caused by the tumours enveloping her spine. Within weeks, her tumour markers dropped to normal and a PET/CT scan didn’t turn up any evidence of cancer.

Dr. Lim emphasizes the value in POG is that every patient is their own personalized clinical trial, allowing the research team to rapidly translate the results into care.

John says that POG has taught them to be brave and to live with purpose.

“We are grateful for the time, money and dedication invested in the POG Program, through the BC Cancer Foundation and BC Cancer Agency. It has given me and Trish quality time together with our family and friends and the hope that we will finally slay the cancer dragon,” he says.

When asked what POG has meant to Trish, she keeps it simple: “This has meant my life.” And, while the results have been rapid and dramatic, Trish, John and Dr. Lim take it all step-by-step as the treatment is a first for cancer care, and the long-term effects remain unknown.

To learn more about POG or to make a donation supporting the future of this world-leading clinical research program, visit www.bccancerfoundation.com/POG

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The BC Cancer Foundation is the bridge that connects philanthropic support and research breakthroughs in cancer knowledge. As the fundraising partner of the BC Cancer Agency and the largestfunder of cancer research in this province, we enable donors to make contributions to leading-edge research that has a direct impact on improvements to cancer care for patients in British Columbia. We fund with the goal of finding solutions. Visit www.bccancerfoundation.com to make a donation or to learn how you can make a difference in the lives of those affected by cancer.

The BC Cancer Agency, an agency of the Provincial Health Services Authority, is committed to reducing the incidence of cancer, reducing the mortality from cancer, and improving the quality of life of those living with cancer. It provides a comprehensive cancer control program for the people of British Columbia by working with community partners to deliver a range of oncology services, including prevention, early detection, diagnosis and treatment, research, education, supportive care, rehabilitation and palliative care. For more information, visit www.bccancer.ca.

Media contacts:

Allison Colina
Communications Manager
BC Cancer Foundation
t. 604-707-5934
e. allison.colina@bccancer.bc.ca

Jenn Currie
Communications Officer
BC Cancer Agency
t. 604-675-8106
c. 778-877-6643
e. jenn.currie@bccancer.bc.ca