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Top 10 Cancer Breakthroughs Of 2011

01/04/2012 04:21 EST | Updated 03/05/2012 05:12 EST

There were a number of significant cancer research discoveries in 2011, according to the Canadian Cancer Society, and many of them were made by Canadian researchers.

"2011 has been a very exciting year for cancer research," spokesman Sarah Bouma said in a release announcing the society's top 10 findings on Wednesday. "Society-funded researchers have made tremendous gains, particularly in clinical trials."

The top 10 list:

- A clinical trial involving Aromasin’s (exemestane) ability to prevent breast cancer suggests it cuts the risk in high-risk women by 65 per cent.

- A Toronto-based research team establishes a surveillance protocol for families with Li-Fraumeni syndrome — a disease that significantly increases cancer risk — that increases the survival rate to 100 per cent after detection.

- Researchers identify a human blood stem cell that is capable of regenerating the entire blood system.

- A Canadian clinical trial suggests additional radiation in early-stage breast cancer can improve disease-free survival by 30 per cent and reduce the risk of recurrence.

- Variants in the genetic material of ovarian cancer cells provide insight into how ovarian cancer develops.

- A clinical trial funded by the Canadian Cancer Society finds that men with prostate cancer can take a drug holiday and reduce side effects of therapy.

- A new imaging method, Laser Raman Spectroscopy, combined with existing methods is able to identify pre-cancerous lung nodules with 96 per cent accuracy and 91 per cent specificity, when used with existing methods.

- Researchers develop nanoparticles called porphysomes that may effectively target and destroy tumours by converting light from a laser into energy that kills cancer cells.

- A Health Canada study that found young men in Western Canada are the primary users of smokeless tobacco will help develop a tobacco-control strategy aimed at young people.

- Researchers turn their attention to genes that decrease the risk of lymphoblastic leukemia in children in hopes of developing treatment options.