$1.5 million gift supports universal genetic testing for cancer patients
The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation is thrilled to announce that The Bhalwani Family Charitable Foundation has made an additional $1.5 million gift to Princess Margaret Cancer Centre’s Familial Cancer Clinic to continue advancing the shared vision of enabling every cancer patient at The Princess Margaret and across the province of Ontario to have access to genetic testing for early detection of cancer. With this additional gift, The Bhalwani Family Charitable Foundation has contributed $2.5 million to support hereditary cancer research and screening.
The Familial Cancer Clinic, newly named the Bhalwani Familial Cancer Clinic in recognition of their gift, is Canada’s largest genetics clinic dedicated to cancer patients. Led by Dr. Raymond Kim, Medical Geneticist and Director, Cancer Early Detection, the clinic provides genetic counselling and risk-assessment services to people with either a personal history of cancer or at high risk of hereditary cancers, enabling early detection and personalized care.
With the support of The Bhalwani Family Charitable Foundation’s most recent gift, Dr. Kim is leading a universal genetic testing program with 1,300 breast cancer patients at The Princess Margaret’s Breast Site Group–the largest and most comprehensive breast cancer research and care centre in Canada. The goal will be to demonstrate that universal genetic testing can lead to the identification of cancer susceptibility genes that otherwise would have remained undetected, therefore allowing for earlier intervention and better patient outcomes. Through the study, the patients will undergo a simple blood or saliva test as part of their standard treatment to screen for dozens of genes responsible for inherited cancers and other syndromes.
“We are at a turning point in personalized medicine where costly genetic testing is now a few dollars per gene. Instead of relying on family trees, we can use up front genetic testing to identify the high-risk families,” says Dr. Kim.
“With cancer stubbornly remaining the number one cause of death for Canadians, and the number of new cancer cases expected to rise by 40% between 2015 and 2030, the time to get ahead of cancer is now,” says Dr. Miyo Yamashita, President and CEO, The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation. “Genetic testing is a non-invasive early detection screening tool that needs to be used more widely. We’re grateful for The Bhalwani Family Charitable Foundation’s generous gift that will change the lives of Canadians today as well as set a precedent for the importance and future of genetic testing.”
The gift will also establish The Bhalwani Family Compassionate Care Fund to provide financial support to cancer patients seeking genetic testing who either do not meet the funding criteria set by the Ontario Ministry of Health, or do not have access to the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP), meaning they must pay out of pocket for the test.
“By leveraging the renowned expertise and infrastructure of The Princess Margaret, we have been able to help create a comprehensive familial cancer clinic and fill an important clinical gap,” commented Arif N. Bhalwani, Director, The Bhalwani Family Charitable Foundation. “This clinic advances awareness of genetic cancers and makes detection a path to a cure. Inherited cancers have touched our family and we hope that cancer gene panel tests become the norm so that we can be a step ahead with better treatment options and dramatically improve survival rates.”
In 2019, The Bhalwani Family Charitable Foundation made a visionary investment in cancer genetics at The Princess Margaret with a $1 million gift to create the Bhalwani Family Hereditary Cancer Fund. Supporting the clinic’s establishment and operation, the gift led to a 30% increase in patients seen over the past three years and helped enable the implementation of a 100% virtual genetics clinic in response to the pandemic.
About The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation
The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation is Canada's largest and leading cancer charity, dedicated to raising funds for Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, one of the world's top five cancer research centres known for its game-changing scientific achievements and exceptional patient treatment and care. Through philanthropy, events, our world-leading home lottery program, and commercialization initiatives, we make possible the critical funding required to accelerate cancer research, education, and clinical care -- benefitting patients at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, throughout Canada and the world. www.thepmcf.ca
About Princess Margaret Cancer Centre
Princess Margaret Cancer Centre has achieved an international reputation as a global leader conquering cancer and delivering personalized cancer medicine. The Princess Margaret, one of the top five cancer research centres in the world, is a member of University Health Network (UHN), which also includes Toronto General Hospital, Toronto Western Hospital, Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, and the Michener Institute for Education. UHN is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto. www.theprincessmargaret.ca
About The Bhalwani Family Charitable Foundation
The Bhalwani Family Charitable Foundation (BFCF) is based in Toronto, Canada and invests in human potential and the improvement of quality of life for children, immigrants, and marginalized communities. BFCF seeks to sponsor research and programs that are underfunded or overlooked but can deliver meaningful impacts quickly.
For further information: Stacey Sheehan, Senior Communications Coordinator, The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation, 437-220-5751 | Stacey.Sheehan@thepmcf.ca