Category Archives: precision medicine

My Mom Died of Cancer 15 Years Ago

Paul and Pat Alofs

On November 2, 2002, my mom Pat Alofs, passed away from cancer after a long and courageous struggle with this disease.  I have been at The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation for 14 years and have seen remarkable progress in diagnosing and treating cancer.  Still, 1 in 2 Canadians will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime and about 25% of Canadians will die from this disease.  That’s the frightening news, but there is also some hopeful news.  In 1970, 25% of cancer patients survived for 10 years or more.  Now, 50% of cancer patients survive for 10 years or more.  Precision medicine or personalized cancer medicine is at the forefront of the new genomic strategies for both detecting and treating many forms of cancer.  Canada does not have a national strategy to deliver on the promise of precision medicine, but it does have the powerful and globally important leadership of the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre.  A national strategy for Canada focused on precision medicine and innovations related to the field of cancer genomics is urgently needed for this country.  Our single payer system is actually very well suited to a national precision cancer medicine strategy.  Other countries have adopted this strategy and sadly, Canada lacks the focused leadership to do the same.  With 1 in 2 Canadians facing a cancer diagnosis and with the transformational advances in precision medicine and genomics, Canada should and must do better.  Until we do, we will lose more of our mothers and brothers and children and friends to this horrible disease.  We have the knowledge and the skill base, we just lack the leadership and the sense of urgency to get a national plan for precision medicine in place.  We could lead the world with our single payer system and a bold strategy with strong leadership, and the will to use the emerging technologies of precision cancer medicine.

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