DR. LASZLO RADVANYI

PRESIDENT AND SCIENTIFIC DIRECTOR, ONTARIO INSTITUTE FOR CANCER RESEARCH

"TO GET AHEAD OF CANCER, WE MUST UNDERSTAND ITS BACKSTORY."

- DR. LASZLO RADVANYI, PRESIDENT AND SCIENTIFIC DIRECTOR, ONTARIO INSTITUTE FOR CANCER RESEARCH

The most powerful way to stop people from dying of cancer is to stop cancer from taking hold in the first place. That’s why researchers across Ontario are studying why and how cancer develops, looking back to the days before the first cancer cell divides to drive life-saving advancements in prevention, early diagnosis, and treatment.

With funding from the Government of Ontario, the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (OICR) conducts and supports research digging deep into cancer’s backstory. The thousands of researchers we have supported worldwide have all brought their own unique approaches. This includes research on the biology of how tumours develop, programming computational algorithms to predict tumour growth, and developing treatments to address each patient’s unique form of cancer. OICR is bringing together these approaches in collaborative research networks to tackle a singular challenge: stopping cancer before it takes hold, evolves, and spreads. What we are discovering together has taken us to the precipice of getting ahead of the disease, where we can start envisioning cancer being detected months to years before it takes off.

Recent years have seen tremendous innovations in our ability to detect cancer early. Ontario scientists have harnessed modern technologies in genomics and proteomics to study tumours at a molecular level, finding markers in the blood and other biological fluids that show the presence of cancer years before traditional screening would. We are working toward a future where people can do noninvasive tests for cancer markers where and when they are most needed, and together with advances in diagnostic imaging, we will be able to detect most cancers in the early stages, when survival rates can be more than three times higher, and cancer even cured.

Other cutting-edge Ontario-based research supported by OICR is investigating why certain people get cancer, hoping to stop deadly tumours from developing at all. Some people are born with genetic mutations that put them at higher risk of developing certain types of cancer. By understanding these hereditary mutations and how they lead to cancer, we can find cancers as soon as they develop and even stop them before they start growing and spreading.

There are also causes for cancer we have known about for many years, but still require forward-thinking solutions. Smoking, for example, is behind about 30 per cent of all cancer deaths. Yet addressing smoking-related cancers requires an understanding of social and economic factors as much as biological ones. So instead of looking through microscopes, some of our supported cancer researchers are looking at the impact of countrywide tobacco control policies, aiming to strengthen efforts to slow down the world’s biggest cause of preventable cancer.

With expertise across the continuum of cancer prevention and care, Ontario is set to forge ahead with innovations in cancer prevention and early detection. By harnessing these assets with continued support for research and a coordinated effort from government, industry, and the community at large, we can stop cancer at its roots and save countless lives for generations to come.

ONTARIO INSTITUTE FOR CANCER RESEARCH

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