Research has proven that one size doesn’t fit all
A future free of cancer requires a fundamental shift in thinking: cancer patients can no longer be treated as a homogeneous group. Innovative approaches are urgently needed to drive research breakthroughs and translate those discoveries into clinical tools to offer new options and achieve better outcomes for cancer patients.
Currently, cancer is categorized according to its site of origin. But within these categories are cancer subtypes that respond very differently to standard treatments.
Doctors base their treatment recommendations on the reports of clinical trials or on past experience, meaning many patients—including the majority with advanced cancer—receive expensive and toxic chemotherapy treatments that result too frequently in little or no clinical benefit. Investment in precision medicine will change that.
BC Cancer has established itself as a global leader in precision medicine and is poised to revolutionize the future of cancer care. It’s our collective responsibility to do everything possible for the 77,000 people who will undergo cancer care this year.
The Future of Precision Cancer Care is Here
Together, we are changing the way we treat and manage cancer. Precision medicine is making a difference in the lives of British Columbians, with many patients seeing improved results when treated according to their genomic status.
A number of very promising research initiatives at BC Cancer are already using this innovative approach:
- Personalized Onco-Genomics, or POG — is changing the way cancer is diagnosed and treated, proving that genomics can change the way we treat cancer. It’s one of the most exciting cancer research initiatives ever undertaken in BC, and is setting a global precedent, in terms of the diversity of cancers investigated and the number of patients participating. POG has taught us that we aren’t limited to traditional anti-cancer drugs and is fundamentally shifting how cancer medicine is practiced.
- PanGen is an innovative initiative that for the first time in B.C. is using genomics to identify different types of pancreatic cancer. The PanGen team hopes to identify unique biomarkers that will result in more effective treatments for patients facing this de6+adly form of cancer. There is strong interest internationally in this novel research, with the opportunity to improve the diagnosis and treatment of pancreatic cancer worldwide.
- A world first: machine learning software used to analyze data from single cancer cells, allowing BC Cancer researchers to map the spread of the deadliest ovarian cancer. This innovative approach will be used to more closely examine cells that become resistant to treatment, and holds promise to be further engineered into a predictive tool.
- Province-wide solutions: all breast cancer patients treated at the BC Cancer are invited to participate in B-PRECISE, a new study to track the evolution of their cancer over time.
Under the leadership of Drs. Sam Aparicio, Karen Gelmon and Stephen Chia, experts collect tumour tissue from every breast cancer patient at the time of diagnosis to conduct DNA sequencing. The aim is to match genomic mutations in the tumours with known or new combinations of therapies, test and develop tailor-made cancer drugs targeted for each unique cancer and avoid treatment resistance. With this project comes the hope that fewer families will face the devastating loss of a loved one in the future.
- OVCARE has led the global research community in uncovering the genetic drivers of gynecological cancers and are poised to implement a provincial tumour bank to progress breakthroughs in knowledge, diagnosis, and treatment.
- BC Cancer is the first in Canada to launch a province-wide personalized medicine panel test through standard of care; the Oncopanel, Myeloid panel, and Hereditary panels are informing thousands of patient treatment plans. These genomic-based tests are capable of being updated every six months, informed by clinically actionable targets discovered through programs such as POG.
- At the forefront of personalized medicine, the Centre for Lymphoid Cancer is leading the development of new genomic based prognostic tests to reduce treatment failure and improve patient survival.
- Launching new treatment technology: T cell Therapy—the immunotherapy research team is designing highly personalized trials in collaboration with the Genome Sciences Centre to tailor immune based therapies to the patient.