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Welcome to the era of personalized medecine

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July 4, 2018

Every day, since its inception, the Quebec Breast Cancer Foundation has been devoted to improving the survival rates and the quality of life of breast cancer patients. Now, more than ever, the implementation of innovative and personalized medical care, accessible throughout the province of Quebec, is at the core of the Foundation’s mission.

“Research and innovation in health care have made monumental advances in the last few years. It is a pivotal era” says Nathalie Tremblay, the Foundation’s president and CEO.

Recent medical and scientific discoveries are showing promising avenues, and personalized medicine is no exception. The scientific community even describes it as the medicine of the future. Personalized medicine aims to establish customized screening, prevention and treatment strategies for patients, depending on their environment, their lifestyle and their tumour’s genetic and biological profile.

The Foundation proudly collaborates with several of the foremost experts in personalized medicine.

-          Jacques Simard : PERSPECTIVE Project (Personalized Risk Stratification for Prevention and Early Detection of Breast Cancer)

-          William Foulkes : Breast cancer genetics among the Quebec population: twenty years after BRCA1/2

-          Mark Basik : Discovery of two tumour suppressor genes, ARID1A and SPEN, in hormone-sensitive breast cancer

-          Patricia Tonin : Implications of double heterozygote mutations on BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes among French Canadian Families

ADVANTAGES OF PERSONALIZED MEDICINE

Assessing the genetic markers of a person’s tumour, as well as its protein profile and its surrounding environment will enable the medical and scientific community to customize this person’s individual risk of developing breast cancer, to help in the diagnosis, to plan the treatment that will be most effective, as well as to reduce the toxicity of side effects by allowing the use of less invasive treatments. Ultimately, this medicine aims to improve the survival rate and the quality of life of cancer patients.

ISSUES

In order to achieve this, costs must be affordable and regulatory framework should be established to protect patients from discrimination based on their genetic profile. Medical information should remain confidential but also accessible to advance research with the ultimate goal of providing patients access to personalized medicine. These issues concern us all, according to Nathalie Tremblay, and they should be the object of an open dialogue between the scientific and medical community, the general public, and the government.

USEFUL TOOLS

1. Forum Québécois sur la discrimination génétique (Forum on genetic discrimination in Quebec)

You have questions about genetic discrimination? Experiences to share? A new online discussion forum is now accessible to express your thoughts on this collective issue.

"Genetic particularities, when exposed, can become a source of discrimination. At a time when the accessibility and reliability of these test are growing, fears of genetic discrimination raise many issues, particularly in the insurance and employment sectors” say researchers at McGill University's Center of Genomics and Policy, who launched this initiative. The forum will address your rights and responsibilities.

Join the discussion: www.gdo.global

2. Québec Health Booklet  

Did you hear about the Quebec Health Booklet? It is an indispensable tool for monitoring your health online. It was launched in May 2018 by the Quebec Ministry of Health. Once registered, you will be able to access your laboratory test results and your medical imaging reports as well as to consult the list of your medications. The virtual medical file will also allow you to subscribe for the Quebec Family Doctor Finder and to make an appointment online.

To register: https://carnetsante.gouv.qc.ca/portail

The Foundation applauds these two important initiatives, as they will empower patients by first offering them instant access to their medical information and second by involving them in discussions related to their care The Foundation believes that it is imperative to assert and protect the rights of all those affected by breast cancer.