Over 360 British Columbians are diagnosed with brain cancer each year and it is the second most common childhood cancer. With support from BC Cancer Foundation donors, BrainCare BC was established and has deployed an innovative patient-centered model of care.

New Cutting-edge Treatment Option

Thanks to BC Cancer Foundation donors, B.C. now offers a cutting-edge new treatment option for brain cancer patients: the NeuroBlate. The new robotic laser uses a heat technology to destroy brain cancer cells through a minimally invasive procedure.

Dr. Brian Toyota has treated a number of patients with the NeuroBlate, an option to patients whose cancer was previously considered inoperable. He says, “It’s working great and there’s no doubt it kills the cancer cells you want it to kill.” The procedure also reduces a patient’s stay in hospital to one night from the typical three to five days.

A Patient-Centric Approach to Care

Dr. Alan Nichol has commenced a new study to address the radiotherapy benefits for patients with an intermediate-prognosis. He is assessing the effectiveness of volumetric modulated arc therapy (VMAT) compared to the standard treatment option of whole brain radiation therapy (WBRT). If VMAT proves to be as effective as WBRT, the hope is to reduce treatment to a single dose of radiation in one visit lasting 12 minutes while avoiding alopecia (a common side-effect of WBRT) and lessening fatigue and memory impairment.

With the recruitment of neuropathologist Dr. Stephen Yip, a dedicated brain cancer clinical trials unit has been established. In addition research is underway to improve understanding around the emotional and cognitive deficits that are common after-effects of brain cancer, such as memory and attention impairments. This work aims to improve survivors’ quality of life.

Genomic Analysis

Support has helped to establish a brain tumour tissue bank which serves as an invaluable research tool and important clinical database for the BrainCare BC team. The accumulation and access to tumour tissue will allow BrainCare BC to partner with the BC Cancer Agency’s Genome Sciences Centre (GSC) and carry out groundbreaking brain cancer research using genomic (DNA) analysis.