Improving Treatment

Bringing the best and brightest minds to Alberta

If ovarian cancer is caught early, it is easy to treat. But in most cases it isn’t detectable until later stages when the cure rate declines significantly. Dr. Lynne Postovit is hoping to change that. The Alberta Cancer Foundation partnered with the University of Alberta and the Royal Alexandra Hospital Foundation to recruit Dr. Postovit, one of the brightest minds in ovarian and breast cancer research, to Alberta. Dr. Postovit, who holds the new Sawin-Baldwin Chair in Ovarian Cancer, will focus on finding better biomarkers for ovarian cancer and gaining a better understanding of how advanced cancers are able to resist treatment. Her team will study how the disease can continue to grow even when it is being treated aggressively. The funding, provided by Alberta Cancer Foundation donors, will allow her team to do transformative research, with the ultimate goal of decreasing the number of women who die every year from ovarian cancers. This investment will be used to make breakthroughs that will improve health and decrease suffering for Albertans.

Introducing innovation

Our donors have done it again. A few years ago, they invested $235,000 to bring ocular brachtherapy—a new type of treatment for a rare type of eye cancer—to Alberta. This year, they helped launch breast brachytherapy in this province, another innovative treatment option that traditionally hasn’t been available here. Brachytherapy, whether in the eye or breast, delivers a smaller, more targeted dose of radiation. This type of treatment can save most of the normal breast tissue, preserve the cosmetic appearance of the breast, and avoid the physical and emotional trauma of extensive breast removal surgery. A first for Alberta, the Permanent Breast Seed Implant Project involves placing very small radioactive seeds into the breast. Radiation is confined to the tumour area, limiting exposure and side-effects to other normal, healthy tissue. The total donor investment to bring both types of brachytherapy to this province is $490,000.

Investigating novel treatments

Most discoveries start with a bright idea, so to ensure Alberta researchers can test their potential life-saving theory, our donors have helped fund a Pre-Phase 1 Clinical Trial unit. Thanks to a commitment from the Alberta Cancer Foundation of $790,845, scientists can now see those most promising ideas advance to the laboratory where things can be tested, ideas are refined and new cancer treatments are developed. So far, this investment is already producing results. One of those ideas may have already produced a new class of anti-cancer drugs for lymphomas, but with implications on other cancers as well. This comprehensive unit is one of a kind in Canada and builds on an already successful provincial clinical trials program. Over the last five years our donors have invested a critical $16 million into clinical research, helping setting Alberta apart from the rest of the country.

 

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