Decreasing cancer in the population
Educating our community to OWN.CANCER through prevention.
Half of all Canadians will develop cancer. One in four will die from it. Yet, we also know 40 per cent of all new cancer cases are preventable through lifestyle changes and reduced exposure.
Up until now, research and treatment focused on improving survival rates. It’s time for a game-changing approach.
To OWN.CANCER, we have to prevent it.
Our scientists are uniquely positioned to unlock the secrets of stopping cancer.
Alberta’s Tomorrow Project, this province’s largest-ever health research study, is following 55,000 people for the next half century. With more than a billion pieces of data and thousands of biological samples, we’re charting how lifestyle, genetics and the environment are contributing to cancer.
Alberta Cancer Research Biobank is actively preserving tissues, blood, tumours and other precious biospecimens, enabling researchers to test if predictive biomarkers can identify and treat cancer patients earlier than ever before.
We can OWN.CANCER by investigating why cancer forms and halting it in its infancy.
PERSONAL CANCER PROTECTION
How can we find new ways to keep out cancer? Through personal cancer prevention and screening, we’re investigating causes of cancer at a uniquely personal level.
We’re finding new ways to measure health with wearable technology and online health-tracking tools. We’re developing new methods to amass and analyze personal health data, exploring new ways to communicate to high-risk groups. And we’re designing personalized cancer screening and surveillance to track where cancer’s most likely to appear. If cancer’s coming, we’ll see it sooner than ever before.
BRINGING SCREENING TO YOU
Cancer doesn’t care where you live. We do. Through our successful mobile breast cancer screening program, we’re bringing life-saving screening services to women in rural and remote communities. Easy access means more women are getting screened and more cancer gets discovered early.
LET’S GET MOVING
Calgary’s world-leading researchers have discovered that physical activity can reduce the risk of developing cancer and improve coping, rehabilitation, quality of life and survival after a cancer diagnosis. More research is needed to determine exactly what type, amount and timing of physical activity is needed to provide the greatest health benefits. By expanding our understanding of the link between physical activity and cancer-prevention and survival, we can inform new clinical and public health guidelines to keep more of us cancer-free.
NO MORE HIDE AND SEEK
Finding a precancerous lesion can stop cancer in its tracks. That’s why cancer screening research is so vital. Cancer screening research can help boost quality of care and improve patient outcomes. With a new Cancer Screening Research Chair, we’ll be able to strategically co-ordinate multiple research projects and take a big-picture view to determine how various discoveries interconnect — all with an eye on finding cancer at the earliest moment possible.
Improving cancer treatment
Developing diagnostics and therapies to OWN.CANCER through improved outcomes.
You build a dream home to your exact needs, tailor clothes to the perfect fit. Can we find ways to help customize your cancer treatment?
Calgary is poised to become the global leader in precision diagnosis and treatment for cancer patients. With support from this campaign, we won’t just be treating breast cancer or colon cancer; we will be able to fi nd precise, tailor-made methods to locate, track and attack your cancer.
We’re fostering new approaches using the DNA, RNA and protein structures of tumours, engaging a patient’s microbiome and investigating the metabolic changes to the body caused by cancer.
Through ACTION — Alberta Cellular Therapy & Immune Oncology — we’re realizing the full potential for T-cell therapy in treating various cancers, including hard-to-treat solid tumours. And with the Systemic Therapy Suite, we’re poised to embrace new and evolving science, test how it works outside the lab, and incorporate it where it can have the greatest impact.
It’s all about custom-designing the most effective treatment plans possible.
It’s time to OWN.CANCER by revolutionizing cancer screening and treatment with custom approaches designed specifically for each patient.
KNOW THY TUMOUR
Treatment options keep growing. We need to know as much as possible about a patient’s specific type of cancer, its genetic makeup and how their body reacts to it, to choose the best path forward. Understanding cancer at the cellular level requires high-tech research and specimen labs, recruiting professionals trained in the latest techniques, and providing them with the world’s best diagnostic machines.
We’ll do anything to get it right.
EXPANDING THE CANCER TOOLBOX
Through DNA sequencing and biomarker studies, the Precision Oncology Hub will rapidly map cancer genes for medical teams. The Immunophenotyping Core will analyse the patient’s immune system to better understand how cancer would likely respond to immune modulating treatment and how aggressive that treatment should be. In the Molecular and Translational Oncology Lab, doctors and scientists will grow cancer tissues in the lab and measure the transmission properties of a tumour, or investigate how to combat low blood counts, to develop completely new treatment options. Combined, these three facilities located within the Calgary Cancer Centre bring a new level of understanding to each tumour, and new hope with each treatment.
MORE THAN WORDS
By linking the right words, poets compose meaning. Linking patients with the latest research, treatments and clinical trials, our scientists provide hope for better outcomes. Precision Oncology & Experimental Therapeutics (POET) is all about testing blood, saliva, urine and stool samples to learn how cancer and cancer treatments are affected by the digestive system, the immune system, biochemistry and metabolism. These clues within the body, meticulously pieced together, can help us match patients with the best therapy available to treat their specific cancer.
Radiation is a mainstay of cancer care, but it can damage healthy tissue along with tumours. We’re working on high-definition radiotherapy, providing superior targeting with fewer side effects. One approach is to use MRI-Linac machines to deliver radiation more precisely. This combination of two incredibly powerful technologies allows medical teams to see the tumour and surrounding organs more clearly to better position the beam. Another method is internal radiation seed therapy. This is using localized and internal radiation applied directly to the cancerous tissue with little exposure to healthy tissues. With the right machines and professionals to use them, we’re poised to become world leaders in providing a new standard of care.
DEVELOPING TARGETED APPROACHES
Unchecked, cancer moves. It spreads through tissues and can travel through the body, attacking organs and taking control. When the disease leaps from one site to another, it is known as metastatic cancer. We want to stop metastasis in its tracks. Calgary is uniquely positioned to make gains on containing cancer in several ways.
First, we are working to develop new therapies that are designed to find and attack cancer cells, while leaving healthy adjacent cells unharmed. These therapies are ‘targeted’ to the patient’s specific type of cancer, their biology, their unique clinical features. Using this approach, we will match our patients to the right treatment at the right time and reduce the likelihood of unwanted side effects.
Second, we are working to understand why some cancers metastasize while others do not. In the case of breast cancer, we’re investigating how changes over time in the environment around the tumour can influence how the cancer cells behave. With this knowledge, we aim to gain control over these changes and keep breast cancer from recurring and spreading.
Third, we are working to prime tumours to respond more quickly and effectively to treatment. In the case of sarcomas, we’re working on strategies to change the biology of the tumour so that its cells become vulnerable to therapies that were once deemed to be mostly ineffective. Using these targeted approaches, we will lower cancer’s defenses so that our therapies can attack and destroy the tumour cells.
These are just a few examples of the many ways our research community is working to develop targeted approaches to treating cancer.
Improving the patient experience
Helping patients OWN.CANCER on their own terms.
Maybe you’re alone in a doctor’s office, impatiently strumming the chair armrest as a physician walks in. Maybe you’re holding onto someone’s hand, squeezing their fingers tight, hoping you’re overreacting. Wherever it is, whenever it happens, you’ll always remember those three little words.
You have cancer.
The memory of a cancer diagnosis is painfully common to many. But a cancer journey is as unique as each patient.
MORE THAN A DISEASE
A four-year-old’s experience of cancer is different from a 40-year-old or an 84-year-old. How they process distress, how they handle pain, how they heal physically and emotionally is complex. We need to help everyone we can live with, and beyond, cancer.
The supports we use to help our patients must reflect their level of understanding and their physical, social and emotional needs. It’s about seeing the whole person, not just the diagnosis.
The Calgary Cancer Centre is committed to improving the patient experience in every way possible.
By creating a safe and supportive environment, helping patients and their families with supports tailored to their needs, we’re going to OWN.CANCER together.
TAKING CHILDHOOD BACK FROM CANCER
Whether in the brain, the blood or the bone, cancer comes for kids too. Approximately 2.1 per cent of all cancer diagnoses are in children, adolescents and young adults.
Youth and young adults have unique needs. Their bodies are still developing. The harsh treatments used against cancer have profound long-term impacts. That’s why we’re focusing on how to support young people and their families through a series of initiatives tailored to their needs.
A HOME AWAY FROM HOME
When you’re young and have cancer, you already feel like you don’t fit in. Not at school, not at home, not hanging with your friends. The last thing you need is to be forced to fit into an adult-sized cancer world. We’re creating a dedicated adolescent and young adult space within the Calgary Cancer Centre. It will include unique programs for cancer care and survivorship like enhanced navigation, art therapy, a clinic and psychosocial oncology research for adolescents and young adults.
LIVING WELL WITH CANCER
Having cancer conjures up images of tumours and treatments, but patients will tell you the experience is so much more. Cancer takes a mental, physical and emotional toll that invades all aspects of your life.
Calgary is a world-leader in integrative oncology — where we embrace mind and body practices, lifestyle modifications, and natural health products, along with traditional medicine. It’s about treating the whole person, not just the disease.
By helping our patients embrace mindfulness, supportive mental health techniques, physical exercise and healthy body image, we’re focused on ensuring patients aren’t just existing with cancer — they’re living well.
TREATING THE WHOLE PATIENT
Taking up yoga as a cancer patient is a lot more complicated than wandering down to your nearest studio and signing up. We’re establishing an Integrative Oncology Clinic to co-ordinate many of these complementary therapies, tailoring them to the unique needs of patients. From one-on-one consultations to mapping out an approach that works for each person, this is a unique clinic designed to make it easier for people seeking a holistic approach to living with cancer.
RACING THOUGHTS AND SLEEPLESS NIGHTS
Fear, panic, guilt.
Calgary researchers were the first to recognize that psychological distress affects nearly half of all cancer patients.
Each year, 4000 patients need urgent support for the emotional impacts of their cancer diagnosis. That’s just in Calgary alone.
Distress comes in many forms. Fears that cancer isn’t shrinking fast enough. Worry over the toll taken on family members and caregivers. Coping with constant pain and fatigue. It’s more than racing thoughts and sleepless nights. And it can be devastating.
The mental and emotional toll of cancer is real – and our response has to be as serious as these feelings are.
What happens when the treatments are over, the surgical scars have healed and the screening stops? Is there life after cancer? For those who are recently diagnosed, life after cancer is the goal. Like so many parts of the cancer journey, the experience of life post-cancer is a lot more complicated.
We’re researching psychosocial oncology and survivorship to explore the cancer experience and find ways to help patients with the lifelong physical, social and emotional impacts of the disease.
Improving cancer outcomes
Charting a path to OWN.CANCER by improving gaps in screening, treatment and survivorship.
Long after treatments and surgeries, one question remains. Will my cancer come back? It’s impossible to know for sure — for now. Better tracking of patient outcomes could be the key to predicting future cancers.
PREDICTING CANCER’S NEXT MOVES
It’s about looking for patterns in where cancer returns. It’s searching for gaps in screening, treatment and recovery. It’s finding the factors that give cancer a secret foothold.
By studying its moves and mapping its strategies, we’re going to decipher cancer’s secret playbook. We’ll finally be able to change the rules of the game.
It’s time to turn the tables, and OWN.CANCER for good.
ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE (AI)
AI and cancer don’t sound like they belong together, but maybe they’re a perfect match. Machine learning is a form of artificial intelligence. Using machine learning, we can sift through vast data sets and uncover patterns and predictions that humans alone won’t find. We need data in one place with the computing power behind it so we can connect the dots and take cancer treatment and prevention to the next level.
With advanced analytics and machine learning we can scan through electronic health records, screening and imaging data, lifestyle questionnaires and more, looking for indicators that can predict if and when cancer is coming back.
Through our Oncology Outcomes for Real World Patients, or O2, we’re going to use advanced analytical methods to find evidence for real-world patients — those whose disease doesn’t fit into a nice little category, but deserve cutting-edge treatment too.
DIGGING INTO DETAILS
Cancer is complex. Whole teams of physicians, technologists, researchers, scientists and patients come together to get ahead of the disease. We’re looking at test results, patient feedback and medical best practice. It means a lot of data. That’s why we’re creating the Cancer Data Sciences Hub. We need the data in one place, so we can connect the dots in ways we haven’t been able to yet.
It’s all about breaking down silos so we can see the big picture and get a window into cancer’s plans so we can stop it.
When diagnosed with cancer, you’re not transformed into some new entity — a patient. You are still you. We need to tailor treatment to a patient’s individual needs. Treat patients with respect, compassion and ensure they are an active participant in their own health-care decisions.
By focusing on the person, not just the disease, we can make a challenging experience easier. Seeing the humanity of the situation also helps our medical teams be their best.
Our Person-Centred Care program will research how patients experience treatment and help train staff to better meet their needs. It’s about keeping care up-front and top of mind for all of us.
YOU KNOW YOUR BODY BEST
We can track treatment and survival outcomes, but only you know what it truly feels like to have cancer. How did cancer affect your quality of life, your relationships, returning to work? How serious were your side-effects?
Collecting personal lived experience is key for medical teams to truly understand the impacts cancer has on patients. Through our My Outcomes research program, we will build sophisticated tracking measures to be able to adjust to ongoing feedback from patients in active treatment.
We’ll be among the first cancer centres in Canada to incorporate patient feedback in real time, allowing clinics to adjust care to enhance the patient experience.
Empowering the best and brightest
Forming a world-class team prepared to OWN.CANCER together.
At the Calgary Cancer Centre, we’re ensuring you never face your cancer journey alone. Diverse and passionate medical teams will travel cancer’s pathway with patients, while scientists will find ways to stop the disease in its tracks.
Calgary is already a world-leader in cancer care and treatment. But this is only the beginning.
We’re continuing to scour the globe for the best and brightest in cancer treatment, research and support — urging them to answer the call to join us in Calgary.
We’re embracing constant learning and new methods to translate bold ideas into proven treatments and supporting medical teams so they can succeed.
By investing in our medical teams to be their best, we can OWN.CANCER for our patients.
SUPPORTING THE TEAM
Cancer takes a toll on patients, their families — and medical teams too. It’s hard when even your best isn’t always enough.
We need to make sure we’re there for our cancer team. Help with the emotions of working day after day against this disease, so our doctors, nurses, therapists and researchers can help every single person who comes through our doors.
With a staff-wellness program featuring equipment to help staff recharge in a safe and quiet space, we’re going to take care of our medical teams so they can keep caring for others.
CANCER TAKES CENTRE STAGE
Creating Canada’s largest, most comprehensive cancer care centre means bringing a vast array of cancer leaders under one roof. To keep our teams connected, cohesive and constantly evolving, we’re going to use our Knowledge Exchange Centre — an auditorium within the building. It’s a way to host world leaders on the latest cancer techniques, especially those who already work here.
Cancer is constantly evolving — and so must we. We will always be reaching for the latest, most advanced and most promising approaches to help our patients. Our professional teams will continue evolving.
We’re going to establish e-simulation programs to train our staff on new procedures, host lectures and education series, and nurture new implementation-science specialists so we can transform bold ideas and promising research into proven treatments.