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Your Dollars at Work

The Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation is dedicated to increasing cancer survivorship in Eastern Ontario. The Cancer Foundation is working to fill the gaps in services for cancer patients and their families and have partnered with local cancer organizations and hospitals to ensure residents have shorter wait times, access to research and new therapies and research, improved quality of life and the best possible care close to their homes.  Here's a look at how we are making an IMPACT.

reducing Wait Times

Wait times are a hot button issue for residents in the Ottawa Region. Here in our community, wait times for diagnosis and treatment remain higher than the provincial average.

  • Provincial Target for Radiation Wait Times (referral to consult): 14 Days. In Ottawa that date has been met in 48% of the cases.
  • Chemotherapy Wait Times (referral to consult): Provincial Standard is met 49% of the time,a 15% improvement over the previous year.

(Source: Cancer Informatics; Data Source/ALR Data Book; Cancer Care Ontario, Referral to Consult Chart, October 2011)

In order to continue to improve cancer diagnosis and treatment wait times, the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation has invested more than $1.8 million in this area.

• $915,000 toward the Ottawa Hospital Cancer Centre Expansion. The Cancer Foundation has pledged a total of $5 million over a five year period to the Ottawa Hospital Foundation’s 20-20 Campaign. This is the largest single philanthropic commitment to this expansion campaign, which doubled the size of the Cancer Centre. To date the Cancer Foundation has invested more than $4.1 million towards the pledge. As a result of the expansion, the Cancer Centre has been able to increase patient in-take by 6%.

• $625,000 to the Queensway Carleton Hospital’s Care Grows West Campaign for the development of the Irving Greenberg Family Cancer Centre and the expansion and renovations at QCH - much of which will support cancer care. The Cancer Foundation has pledged $7 million to this project, and to date has allocated more than $4.4 million.Those funds have been put to work to increase access to cancer services to those living in the West End. Our pledge was a critical part of the funding to support the construction of the Irving Greenberg Family Cancer Centre – which includes the addition of three radiation bunkers, and important improvements in wait times for chemotherapy treatments. The average wait time has been reduced to under a week, down from more than two weeks the previous year. At the Queensway Carleton Hospital, Cancer Foundation funds are helping with the construction of the new James Beach Health Care Centre (slated to open summer 2012). The new wing will house state-of-the-art operating suites and offer brand new clinical space for cancer programs. This new facility will have a 30% increase of capacity for breast, prostate and colorectal cancer patients. Funds have also been directed to the purchase of a second MRI machine, which is expected to be in operation at the QCH by Summer 2012.

• $375,000 to the Ottawa Hospital for the CyberKnife technology. To date the Cancer Foundation has allocated more than $594,000 to this project for the purchase of the CyberKnife, and to establish a CyberKnife Fellowship, which would be directed to training new physicians on the machinery. The  CyberKnife opened in September 2010, and has completed approximately 330 cases in its first year of
operations. The treatments are an average of 45 minutes per patient over the course of one to five days. Those numbers are compared to traditional radiation treatments over a seven to eight week period. The result for the patients: quicker recovery time and fewer side effects.

Access to Research and New Therapies

The Cancer Foundation is dedicated to funding cancer research and has a long-standing history of providing funding to local scientists to begin innovative new projects. In 2011, the Cancer Foundation invested close to $1 million in local cancer research and clinical trials at the Ottawa Hospital Cancer Centre and the Irving Greenberg Family Cancer Centre. Here are some examples of those dollars at work.

• $200,000 to the Cancer Clinical Trials Program. The Cancer Foundation continues to contribute to EVERY cancer clinical trial that has opened in Ottawa over the last four years, and has invested more than $1.3 million since 2008. This year a record-breaking 40 new trials opened, offering close to 2,200 local patients access to the clinical trials program. There are 212 trials running in our community, which includes eight trials currently open at the Irving Greenberg Family Cancer Centre (giving close to 100 patients access to that site over the last year.)

Clinical trials give the very latest treatment options available from the global community of scientists and pharmaceutical companies. Here in Ottawa, our clinical trials program has been designated a centre of excellence for early drug development by a number of pharmaceutical companies. This designation allows the Clinical Trials program to run these specialized trials that give our local doctors access to new treatment options which are not available to most centres around the world. This is an advantage, particularly when patients have failed all standard lines of care.

• $200,000 to Dr. John Bell’s Oncolytic Virus lab. The Cancer Foundation has invested millions of dollars in the Oncolytic Virus research over the last decade, which includes the initial $25,000 in seed funding to begin the project back in 2000. The Oncolytic Virus is currently in Phase 2 human clinical trial and showing very promising results for patients. In fact, in a small randomized clinical trial results have shown a survival benefit for liver cancer patients treated with the virus. These clinical trials are also
providing important new information about how the virus works in cancer patients, so scientists can adjust how the virus is delivered in order to improve outcomes.

• $65,000 for Dr. Barbara Vanderhyden’s Ovarian Cancer Research Lab. With an important investment of seed funding from the Cancer Foundation Dr. Vanderhyden’s team performed a pilot study that led to a $400,000 grant from a national funding agency. That grant now supports three people working full-time in the lab on the pilot study for the next three years. In total, there are currently 12 people in Dr. Vanderhyden’s lab on nine research projects.

Projects Include:

- Developed models of ovarian cancer that are being used extensively for the testing of novel cancer treatments. To date they have discovered two drugs that work in cooperation with oncolytic viruses to improve the ability of these viruses to infect and kill ovarian cancer cells.

- Identified a number of estrogen-stimulated proteins that seem to play an important role in the rapid growth of ovarian cancers. Experiments aim to investigate if the protein is present in all types of  ovarian cancers; will the elimination of this protein or suppression of its function stop cancer growth or, cause regression of tumour, and does the protein interfere with the response of ovarian cancer cells to chemotherapy.

- Identified cells in the ovary that behave like stem cells, and are currently characterizing them for their ability to contribute to the initiation of ovarian cancer.

Improved Quality of Life

In an effort to provide Cancer Survivorship Care services to local cancer patients, the Cancer Foundation opened Canada’s first Cancer Survivorship Centre in 2011. Since opening the doors in November, more than 600 local cancer patients and their caregivers have registered for the Cancer Coaching programs. The programs are designed to engage, educate and empower cancer patients, and their families, with the tools and resources they need to improve their overall quality of life throughout the cancer journey. In 2011, the Cancer Foundation ran a number of pilot programs at the Maplesoft Centre, showing amazing results: 

• Cancer SPORT Program – offers cancer survivors the opportunity to learn about Nordic Pole Walking and incorporate exercise into their lifestyle. Each class has an emphasis on specific training objectives besides developing cardiovascular (aerobic) endurance and muscle endurance through Nordic Pole Walking. 100% of the participants of the program who took part in the survey agreed that the program
helped them feel physically stronger, and 67% responded that the program made them feel emotionally stronger.

• Vitality Program – is a four month program for individuals who have encountered cancer. It offers exercise classes combined with health education and empowering strategies to facilitate adherence to a healthy lifestyle. The exercise classes include strength, balance/posture, flexibility and breathing/relaxation exercises. 95% of the participants in the pilot program saw an increase in physical strength at the end of the program, while 80% of participants saw an increase in aerobic capacity.

• $87,000 to Bruyère Continuing Care to support the Palliative Rehabilitation program for cancer survivors. The eight-week program is tailored to an individual’s specific needs including: physiotherapy, nutrition, diet, occupational therapy and one-on-one consultations with a doctor, nurse or social
worker. The program is currently operating two days a week, giving more than 100 patients access to the program per year.

Care Close to Home

The Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation serves the 1.2 million people residing in the Champlain LHIN.* The footprint covers a vast geographical area of more than 18,000 square kilometres.* In our community, 67% of the population live within a 30 minute drive of Ottawa’s downtown core, with the remaining residing in smaller pocket communities throughout Eastern Ontario. For those living outside of Ottawa, there are many challenges to accessing cancer services due to a number of factors including transportation, weather and financial concerns. The Cancer Foundation partners with hospitals across Eastern Ontario to improve regional cancer services, and provide local residents with the option to receive some cancer services closer to their home, close to their network of family and friends.

In 2011, the Cancer Foundation invested more than $219,000 to improve care close to home including the following projects

• $127,381 to the Winchester District Memorial Hospital for the expansion of the local cancer program. Funds have been used to help with the purchase of the digital mammography machine at the hospital. The funds were raised by the ‘Winchester Heelers’, a group of community volunteers who have raised more than $342,000 for the Winchester Hospital over the last five years by participating in Cancer Foundation Signature Events. Last year more than 2,100 people received digital mammographies at the Winchester Hospital.

• $25,000 to Deep River & District Hospital for the support of the digital mammography equipment. Those funds were raised by the ‘Cougars Conquering Cancer,’ a team of community volunteers who raised funds by participating in a Cancer Foundation Signature Event. Since upgrading to digital mammography technology in August 2011, the hospital has completed 192 mammography examinations. In 2012, it is expected that more than 500 exams will be performed at the Deep River Hospital. For patients, that means saving the time and funds to travel to the Pembroke Hospital – a savings of 60,000 km in travel for patients.

• $1,400 to the Carleton Place & District Memorial Hospital towards the purchase of a new video tower and camera heads for the Hospital’s Colonoscopy program. Colonoscopy is one of the best detectors of colorectal cancer. Improvements to the colonoscopy program allow doctors to better identify people at risk of colorectal cancer. Earlier detection would result in timely access to treatment, resulting in an increase in cancer survival rates and an overall improvement in the quality of life for patients. In the last year 353 patients received colonoscopies at the Carleton Place Hospital.

(*Source: Champlain Local Health Integration Network: Transforming Health Care: One Person at a Time, June 2011)



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