Cancer Prevention & Treatment

Prostate cancer cells

Every day, more than 500 Canadians are diagnosed with cancer and 200 die from this disease. An estimated 196,900 new cases of cancer and 78,000 deaths from cancer will occur in Canada in 2015. Through innovative research on cancer treatment and prevention, members of the UBC Faculty of Medicine are attacking cancer on several fronts:

The breast cancer research program is at the leading-edge internationally, having defined more than 10 distinct subtypes of breast cancer and conducted ground-breaking work showing how aggressive breast cancers evolve over time. This has opened up the route to understanding why some cancers resist treatment and how to approach the problem of multiple targets in breast cancer. In 2009, Sam Aparicio (Department of Molecular Oncology) and Marco Marra (Department of Medical Genetics) published the first complete genome sequence of a breast cancer. The article was featured on the front cover of Nature, one of the world’s most prestigious science journals.

Founded by Dianne Miller (Department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology) and David Huntsman (Department of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine), OVCARE is BC’s multi-institutional, multidisciplinary ovarian cancer research team. OVCARE uses powerful new DNA sequencing technologies to identify the genetic underpinnings of disease. Working in collaboration with Marco Marra (Department of Medical Genetics), OVCARE researchers discovered that ovarian cancer is not a single disease but multiple, distinct disease types. This has fundamentally changed the way ovarian cancer research is being performed in BC, nationally and internationally.

The Vancouver Prostate Centre houses an extensive, state-of-the-art facility and a multidisciplinary team of scientists and clinicians with an established record of major successes in identifying and developing new treatments for prostate and other cancers.

The centre’s comprehensive research program ranges from gene sequencing to molecular biology and functional genomics, and encompasses active clinical trials, socio-behavioral studies and research into complementary medicine. In addition to its research program, the Vancouver Prostate Centre comprises a large outpatient clinic and a clinical trials facility, making it the largest program of its kind in Canada. It is a National Centre of Excellence and a designated Centre of Excellence for Commercialization and Research.

The Centre of Excellence in Cancer Prevention is a partnership of the Canadian Cancer Society and UBC. As a network of researchers, policy makers, practitioners, and communities, the centre uses a novel model that links academic excellence with community championship. The Centre is led by Carolyn Gotay (School of Population & Public Health). Dr. Gotay has undertaken a three-year study, Be Well at Work, to test different types of workplace wellness programs in three BC workplaces, measuring their impact on individuals and organizations.

Melanoma is a deadly disease if not prevented from occurring or identified in its early stages. Haishan Zeng, David McLean and Harvey Lui (Department of Dermatology & Skin Science) have developed and licensed a sleek, hand-held device to assist in early diagnosis of melanoma. Its simple design will encourage uptake and use by doctors to enhance prevention efforts. When melanoma is diagnosed and treated in the early stages, the survival rate is 98% and treatment costs average ~$1,800. By contrast, the survival rate in later stages decreases to 15% and treatment costs increase to ~$170,000. Encouragingly, the device has been approved for sale in Canada, Europe and Australia.

To support cancer prevention and treatment initiatives at UBC, please contact us to explore opportunities.