Canadian Cancer Society

The Canadian Cancer Society is a national, community-based organization of volunteers whose mission is the eradication of cancer and the enhancement of the quality of life of people living with cancer.
Aug 24, 2015

The Canadian Cancer Society Fights for Patients and their Caregivers

Helene and Michael Hardy
Helene and Michael Hardy

“When my husband was hospitalized in May 2013, I was advised to take my 6-week compassionate leave so I could be with him as he wasn’t expected to live much longer. In August of the same year, Michael was still alive, albeit in a poor state, but my leave had run out. I had to go back to work. Death doesn’t happen on a schedule, and compassionate care benefits should support that.” – Helene Hardy

After being a caregiver for 8 years while her husband, Michael, fought cancer, Helene Hardy knows the importance of being there for loved ones in their time of need. The improved compassionate care benefit proposed this August will help more families care for their loved ones and puts a spotlight on health for the first time in this federal election campaign.

We encourage all federal parties to make health a priority in their election platforms.

A plan for a better compassionate care benefit, announced this August by the Liberal Party of Canada, will make essential financial support available to more families who are struggling to make ends meet while dealing with cancer and other critical illnesses.

“This announcement puts a spotlight on Canadians’ health needs for the first time in this campaign, nearly 3 weeks after it officially began, and starts a discussion that must grow over the next 2 months,” says Gabriel Miller, Director of Public Issues, Canadian Cancer Society. “This is a step forward in making sure caregivers receive the support, care and resources they need, and it’s a step all parties must now build on.”

As Canada faces a projected 40% increase in cancer cases over the next 15 years, we’ll need sustainable health systems that guarantee all Canadians have access to high-quality care in their homes and communities, outside of the hospital.

Your support allows us to continue our advocacy work to acheive our mission of eradicating cancer, and enhancing the lives of those living with cancer.

Thank you for joining us in the fight against cancer.

The Canadian Cancer Society Staff and Volunteers

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May 27, 2015

Focus on innovation pays off

Innovative Research
Innovative Research

"The Innovation Grant program really allows researchers to identify grants that would be best characterized as crazy, but not stupid." 

When it comes to the Society’s Innovation Grants, innovation is more than a name – it is a requirement.

“The innovation of each application is specifically assessed, as well as scientific merit and other important criteria,” explains Dr Sian Bevan, Director of Research, Canadian Cancer Society Research Institute. “These projects are based on high-risk ideas with the potential for high rewards.”

The program “really allows researchers to identify grants that would be best characterized as crazy, but not stupid,” says Dr Craig Thomas. A scientist at the National Centre for Advancing Translational Sciences, US National Institutes of Health, Dr Thomas is a 5-time volunteer grant reviewer for the Society, and a big fan of the Innovation Grants program.

“These are wonderful opportunities for researchers throughout Canada to put ideas down on paper that they would love for their colleagues – the people on the grant review panel – to take a look at and say, ‘wow, that’s outside the box.’”

The focus on innovation is paying off. Innovation Grant holders are already reporting discoveries in high-powered journals. The program’s success has inspired new i2I (Innovation to Impact) Grants, which allow scientists with significant Innovation Grant findings to take their ideas further.

Here are some Innovation Grant successes:

    • The rare and devastating pituitary blastoma (PitB) primarily affects infants – who are unable to communicate any symptoms that could lead to early diagnosis. Dr William Foulkes at Montreal’s Lady Davis Institute is tackling the genetics of the disease. He has published findings in Acta Neuropathol showing that gene mutations he is studying can be directly linked to the cancer. His work could lead to earlier detection of PitB and more effective treatment.
    • Colorectal cancer is responsible for the most Canadian cancer deaths, after lung cancer, but we know little about its causes. Dr Stephen Girardin at University of Toronto is studying the protein NLRX1, which is connected to colorectal cancer. Recently, he reported in the Journal of Biological Chemistry that NLRX1 levels are controlled by glucose (sugar), indicating that NLRX1 is linked to energy metabolism, which is altered in cancer cells. His team further determined that this protein regulates the death of cancer cells. This is essential new information about the processes that lead to colorectal cancer.
    • Some cancers are so difficult to treat because of the strategies used by cancer cells to avoid normal cell death. Dr Robert Korneluk at Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario in Ottawa published a paper in the prestigious journal Nature Biotechnology, reporting on his development of a new treatment that in mouse models caused tumours to shrink and extended survival. The treatment combines 2 types of drugs: one that counteracts a protective mechanism used by cancer cells and one that kills them more effectively. As both drugs are already being independently tested, this combined treatment should pass through regulatory channels much more quickly than an entirely new drug.
    • The study of the genetics of cells within tumours is a complex area of research. Dr Sohrab Shah at University of British Columbia has published a paper in Nature Methods describing a new innovative research tool he has developed. Called PyClone, it can organize gene mutation data about tumours and project characteristics of those tumour cells, such as the ability to spread or resist drugs.
    • Lung cancer is difficult to diagnose in its early stages, when treatment could be most effective. Dr Igor Stagljar at University of Toronto has published a paper in Nature Methods outlining a new method he has devised to identify molecular-level processes leading to non-small cell lung cancer. This is a tremendous step toward developing new diagnostic tools and treatments for lung cancer.
    • Depriving cancer cells of the food they need to survive is one path scientists are exploring to fight the disease. Dr Poul Sorensen at University of British Columbia published a paper in Cell about his investigations into how cancer cells adapt to the stress caused by nutrient deprivation, so that counter-tactics can be developed. His work suggests that the protein eEF2K is a clear target for drug development as its absence makes cancer cells less able to survive nutrient stress.

Links:

Feb 27, 2015

Top 10 Canadian Cancer Society research of 2014

Dr. Alberto Martin
Dr. Alberto Martin

Thanks to the support from our generous donors the Canadian Cancer Society is able to fund research that will ultimately change cancer forever.

The following represents some of the highest impact research of 2014 and highlights the breadth of research supported by the Society's donors. 

Carbs, gut microbes fuel colorectal cancer
Genetics, diet and gut microbes all contribute to the development of colorectal cancer, but how these factors work together to promote cancer is not well understood. Dr Alberto Martin in Toronto investigated these connections in a mouse model of colorectal cancer and found that gut microbes resulting from a diet high in carbohydrates interacted with cancer-causing genes to fuel cancer development. These findings have important implications for reducing cancer risk by changing diet and the make-up of gut microbes.

Mapping the evolution of cancer cells
Dr Samuel Aparicio and Dr Sohrab Shah in Vancouver made important discoveries that shed light on how cancer cells evolve in tumours. The researchers developed a new tool to group genetic mutations in a single tumour and used it to predict how cells in breast cancers evolve and grow over time. Understanding and predicting changes in complex cancers may provide new options for targeted treatments.

Gene mutation could be the trigger for leukemia
In Toronto, Dr John Dick investigated the importance of over 100 genes commonly mutated in the early stages of leukemia. He found that a mutation in the gene DNMT3A plays a key role, making cells with this mutation resistant to chemotherapy and faster growing than normal stem cells. These findings identify a possible starting point for the disease which could help doctors diagnose and treat patients earlier.

Genetic test to predict prostate cancer relapse
Dr Robert Bristow in Toronto was part of an international team that developed a genetic test to predict which men are at highest risk of their prostate cancers returning following treatment. This test provides a way to identify patients who need more aggressive treatments, while avoiding over-treatment for patients whose cancers are less likely to return.

Gene mutations linked to lung cancer risk
Dr Rayjean Hung in Toronto was part of an international research team that found rare variations of the BRCA2 and CHEK2 genes associated with squamous cell lung cancer in people of European ancestry. They also found genetic links for lung adenocarcinoma with a gene variation previously only reported in Asian populations. These findings contribute new knowledge about the genetic basis of lung cancer and have implications for the screening of high-risk individuals with these inherited mutations.

Long-term effects of treatment for childhood brain cancer
A study led by Dr Donald Mabbott in Toronto found that children treated for medulloblastoma, a childhood brain cancer, had smaller regions of the brain associated with learning and memory, which was also linked to impairment in these abilities. This study highlights the need for more targeted therapies that minimize the late effects of treatment on survivors.

Banning patio smoking helps smokers to quit
Dr Michael Chaiton in Toronto led a survey of over 3,000 smokers about their exposure to smoke on patios and found that smokers were less likely to be successful in their quitting efforts after being exposed to tobacco smoke on a patio. These findings were used as evidence to support an Ontario government ban on smoking on patios and other outdoor public spaces.

Not all stem cells are created equal
Dr Mick Bhatia in Hamilton discovered that human stem cells made from adult donor cells remembered what cell types they came from. When reprogrammed in the lab they preferentially reverted to their original cell type. Dr Bhatia’s discovery will have important implications for new stem cell therapies.

The costs and benefits of lung cancer screening
A study led by Dr Stuart Peacock in Vancouver showed that the average costs of screening individuals at high-risk for lung cancer and treating cancerous growths discovered through early detection were lower than the costs of treating advanced lung cancer. These findings provide important information to policymakers considering the value of lung cancer screening programs in high-risk groups.

Making immunotherapies work for more people
Harnessing the immune system’s powerful ability to fight cancer, Dr Claude Perreault in Montreal has identified new molecules that attract T cells, the body’s natural killing machines which help fight off germs and diseases. Dr Perreault used a new approach to identify molecules that attract the T cell’s cancer-fighting abilities. These findings could help increase the number of cancer patients who could benefit from immunotherapies.

Thanks to the support from donors like yourself, and gold-standard peer-review process, the Canadian Cancer Society funds the best cancer research in Canada. Our funded researchers work in universities, hospitals and research centres across the country and are mapping new ways to change cancer forever. Please help us to continue to make progress in the fight against cancer.  Make a donation today.

For more information, visit cancer.ca or call our toll-free, bilingual Cancer Information Service at 1-888-939-3333 (TTY 1-866-786-3934).

Dr Mick Bhatia
Dr Mick Bhatia
Dr Claude Perreault and team
Dr Claude Perreault and team
Dr Rayjean Hung
Dr Rayjean Hung

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