At this informational lunch session, Dr. Sandra Dunn (Sandi) and her team gave the VCC a tour of the lab space where the cutting edge research happens. This was followed by a presentation, which was extremely informational and empowering. The presentation took them through the spectacular results of over 8 years of cancer research and study. It also outlined the evolution of cancer treatments, from traditional chemotherapy to targeted treatments, which is what PhoenixMD specializes in. The VCC was excited to learn that we are in the process of creating a personalized drug for Triple Negative Breast Cancer, the deadliest kind of breast cancer, which will be far gentler than chemotherapy while being more effective and potent. PhoenixMD’s strategy is to create the drug as well as the companion diagnostic test along with it. This will enable the drug to be given out to only those individuals who test positive for this specific kind of Breast Cancer. This makes the treatment highly targeted and personalized. The drug compound is currently being optimized and will undergo stringent testing before its release.
Top Insights from the session:
1. Breast Cancer is a global issue – 1.7 Million women are diagnosed every year and half a million women die due to this disease every year.
2. Unfortunately, breast cancer is on the rise. It is reported to go up by ~50% by 2030.
3. Despite the media, the cause of breast cancer is not typically due to a bad gene that is inherited. BRCA-1 mutations only account for ~5% of breast cancers. Lifestyle plays a role in Breast cancer. Eat healthy products that do not contain toxins, drink in moderation and exercise. However, the most important cause for Breast Cancer is DNA damage, which cannot be anticipated.
4. There are 4 different subtypes of Breast Cancer- some worse than the other. Each of them needs to be treated differently.
5. Early detection is still the best way to ensure recovery and rehabilitation. How can we ensure the cancer is detected early on?
a. Regular Mammography Screening: The current guidelines for Canada recommend a mammogram once every two years for women over the age of 50. For those with a family history, an earlier scan may be provided by talking to your family doctor.
b. Self-Exam: There is nothing more important than self-examination, ie.no lumps. This is extremely important, as you may detect something that even the mammogram may miss.
To test their knowledge on all that they had learned, there was a fun quiz, and they did extremely well! We continued the riveting discussion over a ‘healthy’ lunch from Peqish.
What we hope they took away is this: The need of the hour is advocacy. People need to band together, especially us women. We need to not only be aware but also build this awareness in our communities. We don’t all have to be scientists; we all have strengths that we can use to further this cause. We all need to be a part of this journey and do what we can to help.
It was a very beneficial visit and we are glad that the VCC will be a part of our journey towards finding an effective, targeted treatment for Triple Negative Breast Cancer.