Today is World Cancer Day. Under the tagline “Not beyond us,” the campaign’s goal is to raise awareness about the leading cause of death in Canada. Cancer is responsible for 30% of all deaths.
This year’s global campaign encourages prevention, early detection, treatment and care. Its message is a simple one: solutions to fight cancer are within our reach.
Canadian scientists are at the forefront of cancer research. One of the major contributions to the field comes from Dr. John Dick, senior scientist at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre and the McEwen Centre for Regenerative Medicine in Toronto. He was the first to isolate cancer stem cells — in leukemia in 1994 and in colon cancer in 2007. Recently, he and his team found a way to disarm a gene called BMI-1 that regulates colorectal cancer stem cells.
But there is potential to do more. The Canadian Stem Cell Strategy & Action Plan, could lead to novel treatments for cancer. In fact, the goal of the Strategy is for Canada to lead the way in delivering five to 10 safe and effective treatments for chronic diseases within 10 years.
By making stem cell research a national priority Canada has the potential to show that cancer is “not beyond us.”