As I travel across Canada, I am struck by the number of Canadians who have a story to share about a friend or loved one who has been diagnosed with glioblastoma or another form of brain tumour. According to the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada, 27 Canadians are diagnosed with a brain tumour each day – a condition that can dramatically affect physical and cognitive abilities, in addition to quality of life. Despite our best treatments for glioblastoma, which include surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, survival rates from diagnosis are often measured in just months.
The Government of Canada is committed to investing in research to develop treatments and – hopefully one day – find a cure for this disease. In 2017-2018 alone, the Government of Canada, through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, invested $182 million in cancer research, including $5.4 million to specifically support research on cancers affecting the brain and other parts of the central nervous system.
I am pleased to report that Canadian researchers are making advances. The Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) Canada Cancer Stem Cell Dream Team, which is led by scientists at the University of Calgary and Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children, recently discovered particular stem cells responsible for the growth of brain tumours. They continue to study the most effective ways to suppress or repair the DNA responsible for the growth of these cells as a potential therapy for glioblastoma.
I was also pleased to see, last month, the launch of the Brain Tumour Registry of Canada, which is the first national registry to collect data on all primary brain tumours. This will give researchers a clearer and more comprehensive picture of the brain tumour patient population in Canada.