Thanks to the BC Cancer Foundation for giving me the opportunity to contribute to this month’s blog.  My research focus is in understanding the biology of and developing new treatments for pancreatic cancer.  Several weeks ago the Canadian Cancer Society released the 2017 Canadian Cancer Statistics and specifically highlighted pancreatic cancer as an area in need of attention.  Pancreatic cancer is currently the fourth-leading cause of cancer related death in Canada. It often isn’t diagnosed until a very late stage and is resistant to many therapies. As a result, the prognosis for this cancer remains quite poor.

We are fortunate to have a large multidisciplinary group of clinicians and scientists focused on pancreatic cancer treatment and research at BC Cancer and Pancreas Centre BC.  Together, our major research focus is in understanding the biology of pancreatic cancer, and specifically how one pancreatic cancer may differ from another.  Understanding these differences may allow us to tailor therapy based on the unique biology of each specific cancer.  In addition, we are also working on the development of new therapies to treat pancreatic cancer.

Since I last blogged a few years ago, there have been some exciting advances in this area.  There is increasing understanding that there are biologically unique subtypes of pancreatic cancer that may be more sensitive to specific therapies.  To further our understanding of pancreatic cancer biological subtypes, our group has undertaken an innovative clinical trial called PanGen.  This trial is in close collaboration with the personalized oncogenomics team, and is supported by the BC Cancer Foundation, the Terry Fox Research Institute, and Pancreatic Cancer Canada.  The study involves performing a detailed biological analysis of pancreatic cancers and using this information to help guide treatment. It will also help us better understand the different biological subtypes that exist.  We are working closely with scientists in Toronto who are conducting a similar study and plan to expand this initiative to other Canadian cancer centres. 

This study is an example of the multidisciplinary teams of scientists and clinicians at BC Cancer who are critical in the effort to advance treatment for pancreatic cancer.    

Thanks for reading,

Dan

Medical Oncologist and Co-Director of Pancreas Centre BC