Endometriosis, a disease in which tissue from the uterine lining grows outside the uterus, affects one in 10 women — and the results can be devastating. Symptoms include pelvic pain and infertility, and recent research suggests a slightly increased risk of future ovarian cancer. Doctors from the BC Women’s Centre for Pelvic Pain and Endometriosis are making major strides in understanding and treating this condition.
Researchers are performing groundbreaking work on genetic changes in endometriosis cells. The goal is to create a new genetic classification for endometriosis, which could better predict outcomes in women with different genetic types of endometriosis. A study at the Centre showed the importance of nerve growth around endometriosis cells, which may present an opportunity for new medications to treat endometriosis pain.
“It took awhile to get to this point,” says Dr. Paul Yong, director of the research program at the BC Women’s Centre for Pelvic Pain and Endometriosis. While the Centre’s primary purpose is to serve as an interdisciplinary clinic, nearly 90 per cent of patients are involved in various ongoing studies showing strong support for research in its population. Since being founded in 2011 the Centre has developed a data registry of over 2,000 patients, received multiple national research grants and published many papers in major scientific journals.
Just 10 years out of finishing an MD/PhD, Dr. Yong has quickly become a leading voice in his field. On top of his broad research portfolio, he also sees hundreds of patients a year, performs advanced surgeries and teaches medical trainees. He is described by his peers as dedicated, collaborative and always looking for new ways to improve patient care.
One of the Centre’s main research goals is to directly inform clinical practice: A recent study at the Centre, which demonstrated the importance of psychological and musculoskeletal factors in pelvic pain, was published in one of the top journals in the field. Pain education, mindfulness-based therapy and physical therapy is now offered to Centre patients, and they’re reaping great results.
Though their work is already making great progress, Dr. Yong says this is only the beginning. He and his team will continue to build on their knowledge in coming years, all while continuing to offer patients the latest in interdisciplinary treatment.
“There’s a lot of suffering associated with endometriosis,” says Dr. Yong. “A big part of our research is translating it to the clinic so it can help patients.”
Dr. Paul Yong photographed by Brian Howell
Article by: Laura Rodgers
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