Personalized treatments for Okanagan cancer patients

POG begins by sequencing a patient’s entire genome then specifically target treatments and care to the individual.

  • Tue Sep 29th, 2015 5:00pm
  • Life

The next evolution in the standard of cancer care is here and patients in the Southern Interior and across the province are set to benefit from it.

Patients enrolled in the BC Cancer Agency’s Personalized Onco-Genomics (POG) program are benefiting now from precision treatment strategies that are customized specifically for them, thus eliminating the painful and debilitating side effects of toxic treatments that are less effective.

POG, the first and only program of its kind in the world, is greatly improving the quality of life for patients across British Columbia.

Expert researchers are sharing exciting updates on one of the BC Cancer Agency’s most promising research initiatives and its growth in Kelowna.

Dr. Janessa Laskin, is a medical oncologist at the BC Cancer Agency. Recently she spend time training oncologists at the Sindi Ahluwalia Hawkins Centre for the Southern Interior on the POG program.

“We know that when we base cancer treatment on a large population of patients, it doesn’t always work for some individuals,” Dr. Laskin said. ”POG is trying to change that, to shift the way cancer treatment is delivered and give a drug that is specifically targeted to the individual patient’s cancer.”

POG begins by sequencing a patient’s entire genome to create a virtual library of detailed information about every aspect of their cancer.

A team of more than 60 experts then collaborate to analyze and interpret this data and customize treatments for the individual that will be most likely to achieve success.

Because each treatment plan is uniquely designed for the patient, POG has the potential to replace invasive therapies such as chemotherapy and radiation in favour of less harmful drugs.

Key Facts

• In less than two years, POG proved it is possible to sequence, analyze and pinpoint abnormalities in patients’ genomes—all within a clinically-relevant timeframe.

• Based on results, POG was expanded to 5,000 participants, including many in Kelowna.

• Roughly 75 per cent of oncologists in B.C. are currently trained on POG.