As I touched on last week, the importance of the BC Cancer Foundation and its donors cannot be overstated when it comes to fuelling new and more effective treatments for breast cancer. In large part because of this, I expect to see a significant shift in the way we diagnose, treat and manage patients facing this disease in British Columbia.

Over the next ten years, I hope to see us begin using blood samples to profile a tumour. This will be significant as we can use this to identify where a patient’s cancer-causing gene abnormality is located and in which pathway, and then prescribe drugs to block that pathway, with much less risk to the patient. Based on our current research, we expect this to be successful 75 per cent of the time.

I also expect to prescribe chemotherapy much less to patients than we are currently, opting instead for targeted drugs that will be just as effective, but ultimately less toxic to the patient. I don’t suspect we will fully get away from chemotherapy - it has a general effect on cancers, rates of which are growing faster. Rather, for breast cancer, I see chemotherapy being used as a pre-operative tool rather than a post-operative treatment strategy.

I'm very privileged to be able to work as part of a large and talented team of clinicians and researchers here at BC Cancer to bring forth these new developments in breast cancer care. We are proud to say that British Columbians have one of the best breast cancer survival rates in Canada and the world. We are looked upon as leaders in research and have acquired international recognition in leading clinical trials. We are grateful to the many BC Cancer Foundation donors who support this work.

Thank you for tuning into the blog this month for Breast Cancer Awareness Month and learning about our efforts to further breast cancer research and care here in British Columbia.

Dr. Stephen Chia

Medical Oncologist and Chair - Provincial Breast Tumour Group, BC Cancer Agency