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Crystal Gala in Abbotsford donates $100K to breast-cancer study

Study looks at effectiveness of probe used to assess tumours’ response to treatment
BC Cancer - Abbotsford

A $100,000 donation by the Abbotsford-based Crystal Gala Foundation will advance a local study that’s exploring an innovative new method of analyzing breast cancer patients’ response to treatment.

The Breast Optical Probe Study at BC Cancer – Abbotsford uses a specially engineered probe to accurately assess a breast tumour’s response to treatment on patients with advanced breast cancer who are undergoing chemotherapy before surgery.

The hand-held device can differentiate between normal and cancerous tissues using light properties, helping experts to determine more accurately if a tumour has shrunk or changed in response to chemotherapy and decide if chemotherapy needs to continue.

Dr. Jenny Ko, medical oncologist and director of the clinical trials unit at BC Cancer – Abbotsford, said the probe can provide an accurate way of showing what is really happening to a tumour before the surgery to take it out.

“We are thrilled to test this fast and non-invasive method with patients in our region,” she said.

The probe can provide a detailed, faster result than the more common methods in breast-cancer detection, which often include mammography, ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging.

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“It’s a tool we can use in the clinic in real time, as opposed to sending someone to radiology or another department,” Ko said. “And it has the potential to possibly expand to be used with other tissues, beyond breast tumours.”

The study has so far recruited 30 patients, with the goal to recruit 60 to 90 patients in the next two to three years.

The probe was developed in B.C. in collaboration with a team at Simon Fraser University. It will be located at BC Cancer – Abbotsford for the duration of the study with this next phase in the research made possible by the $100,000 donation to the BC Cancer Foundation from the Crystal Gala Foundation.

The probe can also be used to examine healthy women with normal breast tissue to determine if a tumour is present in the breast.

The Crystal Gala Foundation was founded in 1991 and has invested in breast cancer equipment, including an early-detection ultrasound, screening mammography and diagnostic mammography equipment.

“The Breast Optical Probe study is our first investment in research, and we are particularly excited the study is happening at BC Cancer – Abbotsford,” said foundation chair Gerri Charles.

The foundation has contributed more than $3.2 million since 1999 towards the fight against breast cancer in the Fraser Valley.

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