What is Personalized Cancer Medicine?
At The Princess Margaret, we are excited to be leading a new integrated approach to cancer treatment called Personalized Cancer Medicine.
This approach will include using a patient’s genetic information to more precisely diagnose their cancer and tailor the most effective treatment for them.
But Personalized Cancer Medicine at The Princess Margaret is so much more. We have always focused on the individual needs of each patient and not just their disease.
That is why we have:
- Developed award-winning clinical programs to assist our patients and their families
- Recruited highly-skilled physicians and scientists who have the expertise to lead important research projects and clinical studies that improve the standard of care for patients
- Built integrated teams that include engineers, bioinformatics specialists and medicinal chemists. These teams are translating new technology and discoveries into improved therapies that will help more patients sooner
Our strong culture of innovation has made this cancer centre a world leader in cancer research and treatment, and with your financial support, we will lead the way in Personalized Cancer Medicine.
Dr. Mary Gospodarowicz, Medical Director
What is Personalized Cancer Medicine?
Over the past 50 years, our scientists and physicians have learned just how complex cancer is. Every patient and every patient’s cancer is unique.
There has been a clear understanding for some time that cancer is a very different disease depending on where it originates. So today, lung cancer is treated in a different way than colon or kidney cancer, or leukemia.
But more recently, new technology and insight have allowed us to see that the disease is even more complex than that. There can be many forms of lung cancer or colon cancer, and a genetic analysis of a tumour may be required to confirm the specifics of each patient’s disease.
The Princess Margaret is one of the top 5 cancer research centres in the world with an outstanding reputation for breakthrough research, exemplary teaching and compassionate care.
We are two years into our Billion Dollar Challenge, which is a five-year initiative to help revolutionize cancer care. Over the next three years, The Princess Margaret will be continue to be creating the blueprint, developing and implementing new procedures, and setting the gold standard for Personalized Cancer Medicine for all patients at The Princess Margaret, across Canada and around the world.
In addition to genetic analysis of tumours, this new approach to cancer treatment encompasses four main themes:
Detecting cancer earlier
If cancer is detected at an early stage, the prognosis for a complete remission is much improved. Our research teams are working on many early detection initiatives, including:
- Developing and testing better imaging equipment so small tumours can be seen more clearly
- Identifying unique ‘markers’ of cancers that can be detected in blood and serum tests
Diagnosing with more precision
New equipment and procedures that determine the specific genetic mutations or changes that gave rise to a patient’s cancer are being tested at The Princess Margaret. This information will enable the experts to recommend the optimal combination of drug and other therapies for successfully treating each patient.
Targeting treatment for each patient
Improved surgical, radiation and drug treatments will target only the cancer and leave healthy tissue alone, minimizing toxic side effects. Our scientists and doctors are testing new treatments that can more effectively detect and eradicate cancer cells leading to more durable cures.
Supporting patients and families throughout their cancer journey
Being well-informed about their disease, the treatment they will receive and the side effects that can be expected gives patients and their families more confidence, reduces anxiety and leads to improved quality of life. Our award-winning survivorship, patient education and psychosocial support programs need to be expanded so that more patients can be empowered throughout their personal cancer journey.