This World Cancer Day, the BC Cancer Foundation is bringing awareness to the role each of us can play in closing the cancer care gap. We are sharing stories of hope and progress, made possible in part by philanthropic and community support, to enhance equitable access to cancer care in every corner of the province.
The Fraser region is known for its diverse population, and when it comes to cancer research this is one of its greatest strengths, shares Dr. Aalok Kumar, BC Cancer – Surrey medical oncologist and the Provincial Systemic Chair in Gynecologic Oncology.
“In medical research, it’s important to strive to have participants that reflect the diversity of our communities,” says Dr. Kumar.
Dr. Kumar is leading cutting-edge clinical trials in breast and gynecological cancers from the centre that are transforming outcomes for women in the Fraser Valley and across the province.
This research is vital as breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in women, with over 1,500 Fraser region women diagnosed each year. Ovarian cancer is one of the deadliest cancers for women, with over 60 per cent of Canadians diagnosed expected to pass from the disease.
Along with other B.C. oncologists, his team for example, played a large role in the introduction of an innovative treatment called immunotherapy for endometrial cancer – one of the most common gynecologic cancers. Their work helped develop a therapy that has helped improved the survival of patients diagnosed with advanced endometrial cancer.
BC Cancer’s network of regional cancer centres creates space for a great number of clinical trials to be available across the province, but not all trials are available at each centre. This means there may still be a need to travel to access the latest in care. The new BC Cancer centre under construction in Surrey will help change that.
“In addition to expanding our capacity for standard of care treatments, the new centre will bring the opportunity to have more research studies available closer to home for patients in the Fraser Valley.”
The BC Cancer Foundation is fundraising $30 million to help equip the new centre with essential technology and equipment.
Cancer research is moving at an unprecedented pace and it’s thanks to world-class researchers like Dr. Kumar, who’s life-saving work is made possible in part through donor support.
“When I started my career, I wouldn’t have expected to be advancing B.C.’s standard of care every year or every other year. But we’re seeing leaps and bounds in terms of the options available for our patients. We’re constantly raising the bar for patient outcomes and it’s motivating to see as an oncologist.”
Learn more about how BC Cancer Foundation donors are closing the care gap for patients across the province.