Five years ago, the McPeak-Sirois Group, a voluntary group of Quebec hospitals whose mission is to better fight against breast cancer by increasing access and participation to clinical trials for people with breast cancer, was launched. This unique initiative co-founded by Susan McPeak, a breast cancer survivor and Charles Sirois, a renowned entrepreneur and caregiver to his wife has become one of the largest breast cancer clinical research consortium in Canada in just a few years.
The strength of this unique Group lies mainly in the willingness of public institutions to pool their strengths, expertise and experiences with respect to best practices based on Research that cares. This is how the latest and most innovative knowledge in breast cancer treatment is shared within the Quebec medical community. The creation of medical, scientific and operational communities of practice put forward by the consortium promotes improved practices for all sites and benefits everyone, especially patients.
Currently bringing together nine member hospitals1, the McPeak-Sirois Group offers great potential for recruiting patients across the province. This is very enticing for clinical research sponsors and has resulted in having more trials available to breast cancer patients. In practice, more than twenty clinical trials have been started as a consortium in partnership with pharmaceutical companies and international collaborative groups, which has led to the inclusion of nearly 400 Quebecers in clinical trials to date.
We also have the financial support of partners in solidarity with our mission. Among them, the Quebec Breast Cancer Foundation, which through a $2.5M donation to the Group’s Programme Accès-recherche has helped increase the possibility for clinical research in regional hospital care programs (to date in Estrie, Saguenay Lac-Saint-Jean or Montérégie).
Led by its mission, the Group recently launched three innovative initiatives with and for people with breast cancer. In close collaboration with the CIUSSS de l’Estrie-CHUS, a patient-partner committee in clinical research on breast cancer was created by the Group to promote clinical research as a treatment option and optimize participation in trials. The establishment of this committee is the logical and natural continuation of the Group’s contribution to the important and essential reflection on patient and patient group engagement in clinical trials in oncology2.
The second initiative is the creation of a provincial registry for metastatic breast cancer. A pilot project, co-led with the McGill University Health Center, will begin this month in three Quebec hospitals for the collection of prospective data from patients diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. This project, supported by the Group, the Quebec Breast Cancer Foundation and several pharmaceutical partners, aims to support future research projects in this population, identify current treatments of patients and their evolution in terms of response to treatments as well as their survival. Once this proof of concept is demonstrated, the participation of all Quebec hospitals will be possible and encouraged. Ultimately, this unique and invaluable research resource will enable the optimization of clinical practice by improving the care provided to people living with breast cancer.
Finally, the third initiative led by the Group is the creation of a major partnership with an expert group in digital health. The goal of this collaboration is to support and optimize knowledge sharing and transfer activities in communities of practice and with patients. An announcement will be made shortly to share the details of this exciting partnership; stay tuned!
The progress made by the consortium has a tangible and measurable impact, particularly on the participation rates of patients and hospitals in clinical trials. Despite the challenges of the pandemic and decrease in some activities, the Group continues its mission more than ever necessary, in order to bring Research that cares closer to patients thanks to the support of dedicated healthcare teams. A key player in clinical research in Quebec, the Group is on track to achieve its goal of expanding its action to the entire province by 2023!
1 The Jewish General Hospital of CIUSSS West-Centreal Montreal, the CHU de Québec – Université Laval, the McGill University Health Center, the Centre hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal, the CIUSSS-de-l’Est-de-l’Ile-de-Montréal – Hôpital Maisonneuve-Rosemont, the CIUSSS de l’Estrie – Centre hospitalier universitaire de Sherbrooke, the CIUSSS de l’Ouest-de-l’Île-de-Montréal – St Mary’s Hospital, the CISSS de la Montérégie-Centre – Hôpital Charles-Le Moyne and the CIUSSS du Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean – Hôpital de Chicoutimi.
2 Michaud S, Needham J, Sundquist S, Johnson D, Hanna S, Hosseinzadeh S, Bartekian V, Steele P, Benchimol S, Ross N, Stein BD. Patient and Patient Group Engagement in Cancer Clinical Trials: A Stakeholder Charter. Curr. Oncol. 2021, 28, 1447–1458. https://doi.org/10.3390/curroncol28020137