The Breast Cancer Society of Canada, (BCSC) is proud to announce our funding of a critical new research project, in collaboration with the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, (OICR).
Breast cancer remains the most commonly diagnosed cancer worldwide amongst women. In Canada, the lifetime risk is 1 in 8 women, and breast cancer accounts for 29% of all new cancer diagnoses in women. More critically, breast cancer still accounts for 1 in 6 deaths in women from cancer and the majority of deaths occur in women with hormone receptor positive disease.
At diagnosis, 84% of breast cancer patients have hormone receptor positive tumours. Patients are generally treated with hormone therapy to suppress estrogen receptor signaling in breast cancer cells, but despite a broad spectrum of hormone therapies, many breast cancers become resistant to treatment. Developing new treatments which target the diverse mechanisms of resistance have become the major focus of therapeutic research over the last decade.
“Previous breast cancer research has focused on the DNA of tumours,” said Dr. Melanie Spears, Principal Research Scientist and Associate Director of Diagnostic Development at OICR. “Our research will investigate the immune cells and the response of the immune cells to the tumour. Understanding the tumour biology and the immune micro-environment will allow for the development of diagnostic tests and personalized medicines that will treat every patient based on their specific diagnosis.”
The aim of personalized medicine, also known as precision oncology, and this research is to provide better patient outcomes. Receiving an accurate diagnosis, avoiding unnecessary treatments such as chemotherapy and knowing how a patient will respond to their treatment before it begins offers new hope to patients and to those who are resistant to hormone therapies.
“We are excited to fund this innovative research project, impacting so many breast cancer patients in Canada and around the world,” said Kimberly Carson, CEO of the Breast Cancer Society of Canada. “We fund translational research – identifying researchers and projects that maximize opportunities to improve patient outcomes. OICR is a world-class research organization and we are honoured to partner with Dr. Spears and her team to move this priority research forward.”
Thanks to the generous support of our donors, BCSC continues to fund patient-focused, precision oncology research – encouraging collaboration among physicians and researchers committed to improving diagnosis and treatment for breast cancer patients. Only through research will a cure be found.
To learn more, please watch Antoine Abugaber, BCSC Board Chair interview Dr. Spears: