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The Future of Immunotherapy

Immunotherapy Breakthroughs from Decades of Dedication

Woman with cancer patting dog
Woman with cancer patting dog

After decades of research focused on the interplay between cancer and the immune system, the field of immuno-oncology has finally begun to deliver on its original promise. Amid mounting excitement and glimpses of dramatic, sustainable responses, we’re now poised at a tipping point, where it’s within our reach to stop, or slow, the growth of certain cancers that were previously resistant to all available treatments. As we accelerate our understanding of how to manipulate our immune systems to more effectively fight cancer, we’re opening the door to a paradigm shift in cancer treatment.

Over the last five years, the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) has invested over $20 million into immuno-oncology research to support cutting-edge studies aimed at solving some of the most pressing challenges in the field, explains Dr. Judy Bray, VP of Research at CCS. For example, although immunotherapies are highly effective against some cancers, it’s not an even playing field and we don’t yet fully understand why one patient with a given cancer will have a dramatic response whereas another won’t. More research is also needed to figure out how to make the immune system more effective against certain solid tumours, including hard-to-treat ones like pancreatic cancer, and how to predict which patients are likely to experience serious side effects. These questions are at the frontier of ongoing studies around the world, and Canadian researchers are among the leaders.

We’re opening the door to a paradigm shift in cancer treatment.

Dr. Judy Bray, VP of Research at CCS

As immunotherapies become more widely available, people with cancer need help navigating this new treatment journey. “As the only national cancer charity that supports people with all types of cancer in communities across Canada, CCS is uniquely positioned to meet those needs,” says Dr. Bray. “We can help people manage life with cancer, find community and connection, and build wellness and resilience through our support system, which includes a national toll-free helpline, lodges where people travelling long distances can stay during treatment, and peer support programs.” 

With the support of our donors, we’re poised to play a key role in this brave new world.  

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