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Study with B.C. made probe will test innovative method to assess breast cancer treatment response

December 3, 2020

Abbotsford, BC – A $100,000 donation by Abbotsford’s the Crystal Gala Foundation will advance a local study that’s exploring an innovative new method of analyzing breast cancer patients’ response to treatment.

The Breast Optical Probe Study at BC Cancer – Abbotsford uses a specially engineered probe to accurately assess a breast tumour’s response to treatment on patients with advanced breast cancer who are undergoing chemotherapy before surgery.

The hand-held device can differentiate between normal and cancerous tissues using light properties, helping experts to:

  • determine more accurately if a tumour has shrunk or changed in response to chemotherapy                   
  • decide if chemotherapy needs to continue

“The probe can provide an accurate way of showing what is really happening to the tumour even before the surgery to take it out,” says Dr. Jenny Ko, Medical Oncologist and Director of the Clinical Trials Unit at BC Cancer – Abbotsford. “We are thrilled to test this fast and non-invasive method with patients in our region.”

The probe can provide a detailed, faster result than the more common methods in breast cancer detection, which often include mammography, ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

“It’s a tool we can use in the clinic in real-time, as opposed to sending someone to radiology or another department,” says Dr. Ko. “And it has the potential to possibly expand to be used with other tissues, beyond breast tumours.”

The study has so far recruited 30 patients, with the goal to recruit 60-90 patients in the next 2-3 years.

The probe was developed in B.C. in collaboration with a team at SFU. It will be located at BC Cancer – Abbotsford for the duration of the study with this next phase in the research made possible by the generous $100,000 donation from the Crystal Gala Foundation.

The probe can also be used to examine healthy women with normal breast tissue to determine if a tumour is present in the breast.

“Since 1999 the Crystal Gala Foundation has invested in breast cancer equipment including an early detection ultrasound, screening mammography and diagnostic mammography equipment,” says Crystal Gala Foundation Chair Gerri Charles. “The Breast Optical Probe study is our first investment in research, and we are particularly excited the study is happening at BC Cancer – Abbotsford.”

To learn more about the latest innovations in breast cancer research and care happening at BC Cancer, or to give to breast cancer research today, visit: https://bccancerfoundation.com/why-give/research/breast

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