Tumours that arise in brain tissue can strike at any age. More than 360 British Columbians are diagnosed with brain cancer each year and it is the second most common childhood cancer.
The brain is also a frequent site for the spread of other cancers, such as breast, lung, melanoma and colon.
Outcomes for brain cancer vary significantly depending on the location and size of the tumour, how quickly it grows and how likely it is to spread.
Progress to Date
BC Cancer’s Neuro-Oncology team is at the forefront of brain cancer research and enhancements to treatment and care. Under the leadership of medical oncologist Dr. Brian Thiessen, progress is being made to bring innovative solutions to brain cancer patients and their families.
- Researchers are identifying key changes that lead to the development of brain tumours with samples from the Brain Tumour Tissue Bank. Greater knowledge of brain tumour biology will lead to new, more effective treatments.
- The Brain Tumour Outcomes Unit and Stereotactic Radiation Outcomes Unit are cataloguing key information about how treatments impact patients at BC Cancer. The databases track each tumour type, treatments given and how successful the treatments were. This information is helping clinicians determine new treatment policies and providing researchers with vital information to match with biomarker studies.
Key Priorities Include Better Treatment, Better Outcomes
Thanks to generous donor support, BC Cancer’s Neuro-Oncology team is working to bring innovative solutions to the more than 360 British Columbians who are diagnosed with brain cancer each year. Here are two projects currently underway:
Rehabilitation for Brain Cancer Patients
Many patients battling brain cancer face cognitive issues as a side effect of treatment. Because these cognitive deficits can vary widely, BC Cancer is exploring a rehabilitation program that is tailored to individual needs.
Researchers at BC Cancer, in collaboration with colleagues at the Watson Centre Society for Brain Health and the University of British Columbia, are seeking to test the feasibility of a multi-modal rehabilitation program consisting of aerobic exercise, cognitive exercise and counselling for individuals with a primary brain tumour. This study holds the potential to improve the quality of life for people facing a spectrum of cancer types.
Transforming Chemotherapy Delivery
Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is aggressive and difficult to treat brain cancer, because the cancer cells are able to move quickly and infiltrate brain tissue. The two-year survival rate for GBM is about 30 per cent and the five-year survival rate is reported to be about 10 per cent. Better treatment options are urgently needed.
BC Cancer Senior Scientist Dr. Cathie Garnis is currently developing a hydrogel-based mesh that releases a special chemical designed to attract brain tumour cells and kill them with chemotherapy. Testing potential chemicals and delivery methods brings this revolutionary new treatment protocol one step closer to patients in the clinic, to target GBM more effectively and precisely.
Support Brain Cancer Research And Care In BC
Hope starts here. Cutting-edge research holds the potential to transform daily life for thousands of British Columbians affected by brain cancer.