Relay for Life teams in Langley have raised well more than a million dollars in the past seven years.
Once the Relay is over, the money goes towards support for patients, for education about cancer prevention such as anti-smoking campaigns, and also towards research.
The Canadian Cancer Society recently released its list of the top 10 discoveries of 2011 in cancer treatment that it helped fund.
At the top of the list was a large international trial which found that a drug called exemestane could reduce the risk of breast cancer by 65 per cent, compared to a placebo.
The discovery was lauded by the American Society of Clinical Oncology as one of the most significant breakthroughs of the year.
Other research projects partially funded by the Cancer Society included a new way of catching cancer early in those with a rare syndrome that makes them susceptible to cancer, the discovery of a human blood stem cell that could help treat blood-borne cancers better, and a method developed in Vancouver by Dr. Haishan Zeng, which uses lasers to detect cancer cells.
Zeng's project could find pre-cancerous lesions with a 96 per cent sensitivity, in combination with existing methods.
Another Canadian researcher, Dr. Gang Zheng in Toronto, is also using lasers, in combination with nanoparticles, to zap cancer cells without using harmful radiation.
Because cancer is not one disease, but rather is hundreds of diseases, there is not ever likely to be a single cure.
Due to better treatments and healthier lifestyles, especially lower rates of smoking, death rates in Canada from the four major types of cancers have gone down 21 per cent for men and nine per cent for women over the last 20 years.