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Cancer Genetics Program

What we do

The Cancer Genetics Program is the first of its kind in Canada and, in fact, in North America in the setting of a paediatric academic health sciences centre. A substantial donation from the Harold E. Ballard Foundation was parlayed into a $1.83 million infrastructure grant from the Canada Foundation for Innovation in partnership with the Ontario Innovative Trust to establish a cancer genetics laboratory core facility that will serve the research needs of both the local research community, as well as other investigators and institutions across Canada. Thus, the clinical, research, and infrastructure facilities afford numerous unique professional opportunities for exchange of ideas, collaborative research and clinical studies, and education of trainees from other countries to enhance their expertise in this state-of-the-art, cutting-edge field.

Objective

The primary objectives of the program are to meet the needs of people who may have a family history of cancer and to advance research efforts to translate novel developments in the understanding of the biology of cancer predisposition into clinical practice.

To achieve these objectives, the Program integrates an interdisciplinary clinical service that provides genetic counseling and provision of current information to families and physicians and other health care professionals, with the development of research studies to address current issues in the field of Cancer Genetics.

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This highly specialized program clarifies the cancer risk of patients and families and develops recommendations for long-term monitoring of these individuals.

Individuals at risk are informed and guided by a team led by a Genetic Counsellor, Medical Geneticist, and Pediatric Oncologist. The Program generates and maintains an interactive clinical database to formulate research questions in paediatric cancer genetics. Effective networks have been developed to educate both patients and their health care providers to the value and medical relevance of this area of study.

Goals

Childhood cancer is a genetic disease, although its pattern of inheritance is not always clearly defined. The principal goals of the Program are in:

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Within these broad goals, the Cancer Genetics Program seeks to:

  • identify and study the functional characteristics of genes associated with those at risk for cancer;
  • develop practical applications of genetic testing of children and families at risk for cancer;
  • counsel families and implement clinical surveillance strategies for identified high-risk individuals;
  • to develop educational opportunities for families and health-care professionals in the complex medical, ethical and psychosociologic aspects of cancer genetics.

The CGP is a multi-disciplinary program designed to integrate and apply the emerging science of genetics of cancer predisposition to the practice of paediatric oncology. The program serves clinical, research and education needs of health-care providers and families of children with cancer. It has become a unique and internationally-recognized program.