March 6, 2018 9:28 pm
Updated: March 8, 2018 2:03 am

New Canadian research aims for tailored treatment of pancreatic cancer

The remarkable case of a B.C. cancer patient has sparked some promising new research into personalized treatment of pancreatic cancer. Aaron McArthur reports. Today's Global News Hour at 6 Health Matters is brought to you by Pharmasave.

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Canadian scientists are teaming up with the Terry Fox Research Institute (TFRI) to lead a new $5-million personalized treatment initiative.

The Enhanced Pancreatic Cancer Profiling for Individualized Care (EPPIC) team, is hoping to improve personalized treatments for patients across Canada with pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC), a particularly deadly form of cancer, over the next five years.

Dr. David Schaeffer is the head of Anatomic Pathology at Vancouver General Hospital (VGH) and an assistant professor at UBC.

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“[So] we understand what is specific for one particular patient’s tumor and try to tailor our treatment from what we learn from that particular cancer,” he said.

Dr. Schaeffer says, a lot of research that’s been done around pancreatic cancer has been on cases where the tumor can be removed. “The problem is 80 per cent of the patients who we see at the time of presentation with pancreatic cancer, already have advanced cancer… this is an area we haven’t focused a lot of research, EPPIC is trying to focus on that area.”

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Dr. Schaeffer says, there’s many different types of the disease even within advanced diagnoses, and treatment needs to reflect that reality.

“Right now, we’re just starting to understand that there’s actually sub types of the disease and depending on what type of cancer you have, it may have a different impact as to what treatment we may choose.”

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Pancreatic cancer can be one of the most devastating diagnoses, with lack of early detection tests and very few symptoms. The cancer’s survival rate is abysmal with just a nine per cent, five-year survival rate according to TFRI.

Dr. Schaeffer says the goal is to enroll 400 patients with the most advanced types of pancreatic cancer, and make data publicly available so researchers all across the world can access it, and collaborate.

The project is currently in the works in Vancouver and Toronto, and will later expand to patients in other parts of the country.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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