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Staying One Step Ahead of Cancer

As a medical oncologist and the Director of the Phase 1 clinical trials program at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, Dr. Siu is responsible for developing up-and-coming cancer drugs. “The Princess Margaret is the place to come to when you’re looking for new drug treatments because we have access to a lot of clinical trials,” she explained.   

Another large area of Dr. Siu’s research is in liquid biopsies, a blood test that detects microscopic traces of cancer.  She uses this procedure to look at DNA in the bloodstream that comes from cancerous cells, called circulating tumorous DNA (ctDNA). Researchers are looking at ctDNA to see if they can identify patients who have molecular traces of residual cancer in them. This can help to eradicate the cancer before it has a chance to recur. But this ground-breaking research depends heavily on donor support.  

“A lot of the work that we would like to do, like intercepting cancer with ctDNA, would not be possible
without support for research. It’s very novel and not yet funded by regular channels like the Ministry of Health,” said Dr. Siu. “We need to be able to have access to resources to do the kind of discovery work that we want to do,” she said. “We’re always trying to be a step ahead of cancer and it’s not a cheap task.” 

Researchers like Dr. Siu continue to look for peer-reviewed grants and money but more support would mean more time spent on the science. “Knowing we can do our work without having to worry about funding allows us to think much bigger and bolder.”  

“The money that you’re investing in The Princess Margaret Home Lottery is a ‘pay it forward’ kind of investment,” said Dr. Siu. “There aren’t too many things in life that you can buy, and they get paid forward to someone else. You’ll be benefitting many others, which I think is a good thing for humankind.”