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What’s in store for functional cancer imaging?

We’ve been fortunate to have PET/CT imaging for patients with suspected or diagnosed cancer for the past five years. However, demand has been growing, not only because the population is aging and the incidence of cancer is increasing, but also because PET/CT scans are increasingly recognized as an essential part of routine cancer care. To improve access to PET/CT scans in British Columbia, the BC Cancer Foundation is raising funds to purchase a second PET/CT scanner. The Provincial Health Services Authority and the BC Cancer Agency have committed to provide the operational funding, and the...

Functional Cancer Imaging research

Another part of my work is to lead an active research group on “Functional Cancer Imaging.” The purpose of my research is to improve and develop new methods to detect and characterize cancers by using tumor-seeking probes instead of simply looking for tumour masses using conventional means. Part of this includes evaluating which patients gain the most benefit from PET/CT scans performed using radioactive glucose . This is something we already use in the clinic and we are looking at means to improve the current procedures. I also conduct clinical trials to see how we can improve clinical care...

Radiopharmaceutical facility officially opens!

I’m excited because yesterday we officially celebrated the opening of the cyclotron and the radiopharmaceutical facility at the BC Cancer Agency’s Centre of Excellence for Functional Cancer Imaging. It’s an impressive space (6,000 square feet), and at its core is the cyclotron I mentioned in my previous post. This facility is important because we can now produce our own radioisotopes to perform PET/CT scans. We are grateful for the support TRIUMF has been providing until now, but being able to produce our own radioisotopes is an important step forward in our use of functional cancer imaging...

Remembering Sindi Hawkins

As you may have heard, yesterday we lost our dear friend Sindi Hawkins. Sindi was a champion, an ambassador and a leading light for the BC Cancer Foundation and for the cancer cause. Without a doubt, Sindi made a difference in the lives of many cancer patients and their families. Sindi became a cancer advocate and fundraiser long before her own diagnosis with the disease. She created the Sindi Hawkins and Friends Charity Golf Tournament to help fund the opening of the BC Cancer Agency’s Centre for the Southern Interior – which has now been re-named in her honour. She helped fund the first-...

Radioisotopes and cancer imaging

Performing PET/CT scans is not simply a matter of purchasing a machine and installing it into a hospital room. We must produce the very short-lived radioactive tracers (radioisotopes), which we use to detect cancer, in close proximity. Since they are radioactive, these tracers disappear spontaneously very quickly, within a matter of minutes to hours. While this short time frame can pose logistical hurdles, it is ultimately a good thing, as we can make useful images without harming patients since the radioactivity goes away very quickly. In addition, we don’t leave any radioactive byproduct...

What’s a PET/CT scan?

As a nuclear medicine physician, I help patients by reading a special type of scan to detect cancers called a PET/CT scan. PET stands for “positron emission tomography” while CT stands for “computed tomography.” A PET scan is extremely sensitive — it can measure tiny amounts of radioactive material that show how organs function, all the way to the level of molecules and cellular biochemistry. By using trace amounts of glucose (sugar), which the cells (including tumours) metabolize, it has been shown that PET scans are so sensitive, they detect even small cancers. A PET/CT scanner The CT scan...

Meet Dr. François Bénard

My name is François Bénard and I am a clinician-scientist at the BC Cancer Agency . I am a joint employee between the BC Cancer Agency and the University of British Columbia (UBC), where I am a Professor in the Department of Radiology, and the Academic Head of the Division of Nuclear Medicine. My position is supported by a research chair called the “BC Leadership Chair in Functional Cancer Imaging.” This research chair was funded by the BC Cancer Foundation (through generous donations) and the BC Government (through the Leading Edge Endowment Fund ). I am really grateful to both of these...

Making strides in ovarian cancer research

As part of our new Partners in Discovery blog, we want to give you as much opportunity as possible to hear directly from clinicians and researchers. So I’m going to turn this posting over to Dr. David Huntsman, Director of the Ovarian Cancer Research or OvCaRe Program to tell you about his team’s exciting breakthrough in ovarian cancer, published today. Warm regards, Doug This week in the New England Journal of Medicine , we published a paper describing never-before-seen mutations in a gene in two types of ovarian cancer – clear-cell carcinoma and endometrioid cancer. Both of these cancers...

Unveiling our new Partners in Discovery blog

I’m excited to share our new Partners in Discovery blog with you. Partners in Discovery represents our partnerships with the people who are helping us achieve our vision of a world free from cancer – donors, their families, and the bright minds at the BC Cancer Agency. The BC Cancer Foundation is the bridge between the BC Cancer Agency and our donors, bringing them together to enable direct improvements to patient care and treatment. So, our blog is going to reflect that. We want to give our readers and our donors a “behind the scenes” look at how funds are being used, and the results of...

One step closer to personalized medicine

There’s exciting news coming out of the Genome Sciences Centre (GSC) today that brings us one step closer to the goal of realizing personalized medicine in our lifetime. Personalized medicine means that the entire spectrum of cancer control – from prevention and screening to treatment and survival – can be individually prescribed, based on your unique genetic make-up. Today, in the journal Genome Biology , researchers at the GSC published the first documented case in the world where genomic sequencing of a cancerous tumour was used to help doctors decide on a course of treatment and choice of...

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