There is much to look forward to with regard to cancer research and care here in British Columbia. My primary hope would be to improve our ability to provide the right treatments to patients much earlier than we are able to now.

For the most part, we still give a one-size-fits-all approach to large cohorts of patients, depending on the type of tumour they have. There is a need to improve our ability to determine who will respond to these types of treatment and who won’t, before we deliver it.

That way, we can choose a better course of treatment for that individual’s specific cancer type. This is the power of precision medicine, and I believe it to be the future of cancer care here in British Columbia.

Cancer is a very complex disease. What we consider lung cancer, for example, is actually multiple types of cancer, each different from each other. Our ability to identify these subtypes, and determine the ideal treatment plan accordingly, will improve long term survival rates. While we will need to spend more on diagnostic testing in order to achieve this, I believe we will end up saving in the cost of treatment in the long run, as well as the patient’s life.

The treatments that are being developed right now will have a big impact on changing outcomes for patients across this province and beyond. We know that even when we are dealing with the same type of cancer, one patient might respond to surgery while another might fare better with targeted radiation, depending on the unique subtype of that cancer they may have.

If we look at the quality of researchers we have and how driven and motivated they are to make a difference, our ability to discover and implement more effective treatment options for these subtypes will only improve with time.

When people make a donation, it really helps push our knowledge forward in understanding the complexity of this disease. Research is the only way that we can do better, and philanthropists are our partners in this regard as we look to the future.

Thank you for tuning in to my blog this month and best wishes to you this holiday season.

Dr. Benard