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Medical Oncology: Improving Outcomes through Research

November 13, 2013

As a medical oncologist who treats lung and head & neck cancer, I have the opportunity to work with many inspiring patients and families. Their positive outlook and strength give me the motivation to find ways of improving outcomes through research.

Research is something that I think people often equate with working in a lab performing experiments on cells. But at the BC Cancer Agency we have the whole span of research capabilities:

  • basic science at the BC Cancer Agency Research Centre;
  • clinical trials;
  • evaluating the impact of system changes in how we deliver health care;
  • assessing patterns of clinical practice changes.

The spectrum is varied but each facet is vital for making sure that things eventually translate to the most important part of the equation: the patients and their families.

My research falls in the spectrum of the latter category – we look retrospectively at what we have changed in cancer care for patients in the past (for example, addition of new drugs or alterations in radiotherapy techniques) to make sure that we are improving outcomes for patients. We want to ensure that what we learn in clinical trials applies in the real world with real patients. Looking at the past helps highlight our successes and mistakes so that we can change the system appropriately.