Brighter future expected with new advances in kidney cancer

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Five years ago, kidney cancer was in the shadows. A diagnosis of the disease left few options for patients and the average survival time was just 12 months. But through exciting new developments in treating the disease, there is now a brighter outlook for people living with ki dney cancer in Canada. This is critical for a disease that is on the rise in Canada.

These developments can be summed up in five words: survival, support, understanding, research, and hope.

Survival

On average, patients with kidney cancer are living years longer today than ever before. Kidney cancer has few signs and symptoms and is often diagnosed in the late and much more serious stages. Unfortunately, kidney cancer does not respond to conventional therapies such as chemotherapy or radiation, which makes the need for newer targeted treatments critically important. After 10 years of waiting, the introduction of four new targeted therapies in Canada in the past five years has significantly changed the lives of people with kidney cancer.

Support

Living with cancer is not just about the medication. Disease management often includes support, education and an inclusive community. Kidney Cancer Canada (KCC) was formed in 2007 to provide that level of support to Canadian kidney cancer patients. KCC (www.kidneycancercanada.ca) is now a registered charity with a strong presence across Canada.

Understanding

In 2009, KCC established a Medical Advisory Board, comprised of cross-Canada experts from specialties including urology, medical oncology, radiation oncology and nursing. Their mission is to provide KCC with a dedicated group of medical practitioners focused on kidney cancer research, collaboration, and best practices in patient care, creating a strong connection to build awareness for the disease among health-care professionals and patients alike.

Research

Kidney cancer research has come a long way in a short period of time but there is still a long way to go. Increased research funding allows for the development of superior treatments, and more treatment options allow physicians to tailor their care more effectively, ultimately giving patients more time with loved ones.

However, a recent report from the Canadian Cancer Research Alliance shows kidney cancer is proportionally and significantly underfunded. Kidney cancer receives less than 1.2 per cent of the $402.4 million invested in cancer research in Canada, even though it accounts for up to three per cent of new cancer cases. To continue on the path of achievement, more dedicated research funding is urgently needed.

Hope

Research advances have already translated into longer survival, deeper understanding and greater support. Researchers and patients share a greater sense of hope than ever before. Hope that research will continue to deliver breakthroughs in treatment and hope that more Canadians with this rare cancer will have access to this new era of treatments and the hope they bring.

To learn more about kidney cancer or find out how you can help make a difference, visit www.kidneycancercanada.ca.