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Research in this axis focuses on the cause (heredity), prognosis and molecular basis of cancer from infancy to adulthood. The axis has developed translational strengths in several areas including cancers of the breast, prostate, ovarian, pancreas and colon, and melanoma, which are global public health concerns and represent a major clinical burden to the healthcare system.
As a designated breast cancer and melanoma referral center for Québec, members of this axis, in conjunction with the UROMED Prostate Cancer center, have investigated and refined the diagnostic and prognostic tools for breast and prostate cancers, and melanoma. Research has identified molecular genetic signatures of these cancers, which can be used to predict, prevent and personalize medicine.
Other initiatives include large-scale genomics-based research aimed at assessing global patterns of gene expression and genomic anomalies in cancer cells. Research has identified distinct signatures for early stage disease, metastatic lesions, tumour stroma and tumour vasculature in breast cancer; and determined that diseases involving ovarian and colorectal cancers are heterogeneous and evolve through various distinct pathways.
Research in this axis continues to contribute to the improvement of quality of life and the provision of optimal palliative care at all stages of disease. The Cancer Axis has attained international recognition for the development of quality of life measures for palliative care patients and their families. Future research will focus on the study of systemic aspects of human cancer, and the capability to respond to the emerging reality of individualized cancer care, while taking advantage of the unique opportunity to study the disease across the infancy-to-adulthood continuum at the MUHC.