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HSA support for Run helps fund important new research

The Report: August 1999 vol.20 num.2

by CHERYL GREENHALGH

Breast cancer has touched most of us in one way or another. Many of our patients,co-workers, friends and family have been affected by this disease, and HSA members arevery involved in the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer.

That is why HSA has been a sponsor of the BC Breast Cancer Foundation’s Run forthe Cure since 1997. Through donations by our organization and pledges gathered by HSAmembers participating in the event, we have proudly directed $45,000 to the foundation.

We are happy to report that this money was instrumental in supporting a new researchproject at the BC Cancer Agency. The HER-2/neu project will fund a laboratory serviceproviding new cancer cell testing for those diagnosed with breast cancer – a testthat is needed but not currently available in BC.

When a breast tumour is removed, it is assessed for evidence of malignancy andclassified according to standard pathological criteria. In this way, the appropriatetreatment may be recommended. More recently, researchers are looking at cancer cellanalysis to better predict the outcome of treatment and response to therapy. HER-2/neugene is a cell growth promoter which is overexpressed in approximately 30% of breastcancers. This appears to be associated with poor prognosis. There is interest in beingable to test for HER-2 due to the development of an antibody (Herceptin) which is thoughtto act against the HER-2 protein by suppressing its growth-promoting activity. It isthought that Herceptin is only effective in women who overexpress HER-2 so it is essentialto identify these women prior to exposing them to this potentially toxic therapy.

This study will evaluate and compare available HER-2 testing methods to establish theoptimal method for HER-2 testing for patients with breast cancer. It is hoped that thiswill validate the application for provincial funding to provide this service to women inBC. This project, in conjunction with a separate study looking at the response rates ofbreast cancer patients to Herceptin and chemotherapy, may be a significant advance inbreast cancer therapy.

I hope that HSA members will be very proud of their participation in this promising newtechnology. Having an appreciation for what we are funding is motivation to “keep upthe good work.” This year, the Run for the Cure will be held on October 3 in Nanaimo,Kelowna, Kamloops, Victoria and Vancouver. I would encourage you to set aside that morningto have a good time for a good cause. Run, walk or wheel one or five kilometres and knowthat you are supporting something important for all of us who are affected by breastcancer in BC.

Cheryl Greenhalgh represents Region 3 on HSA’s Board of Directors. Keep an eyeon your HSA bulletin board for further information.

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