With more Albertans surviving cancer, partnership focuses on survivorship research

With more Albertans surviving cancer, partnership focuses on survivorship research

Alberta Cancer Foundation, Canadian Cancer Society and Canadian Institutes of Health Research partner to help Albertans facing cancer

Alberta, September 15, 2020 – With more people surviving cancer, the need for research in the area of survivorship and quality of life increases. Alberta Cancer Foundation is pleased to announce it has contributed nearly $1M to two survivorship team grants in partnership with the Canadian Cancer Society and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. Overall, the joint team grant funded $13.4 million to help support six research projects Canada-wide as part of the inaugural CCS/CIHR Cancer Survivorship Team Grants. The grants represent the largest, first-of-its-kind cancer survivorship research initiative in Canada, bringing together researchers, clinicians, survivors and caregivers to address key questions in cancer survivorship.

Two of these six research projects are based out of the University of Calgary and have a direct line of sight to patient outcomes for Albertans. The Foundation is proud to support the work of Dr. Nicole Culos-Reed, PhD, Faculty of Kinesiology and Dr. May Lynn Quan, MD, Cumming School of Medicine, with this nearly $1M investment.

Dr. Nicole Culos-Reed – Reaching rural cancer survivors to enhance quality of life

While the benefits of cancer exercise programs are well-documented, research in exercise and cancer has been mostly conducted in urban academic and clinical settings. There has been very limited outreach to cancer survivors outside of major cities, to those in rural or remote communities.

This program, Project EXCEL, represents an expansion of the ACE (Alberta Cancer Exercise) program, intended to bring the benefits of an exercise oncology program to cancer survivors in rural and remote areas across Canada through a ‘hub and spoke’ approach (Edmonton and Calgary will be two of the ‘hubs’). Particularly at this difficult time during a global pandemic, online delivery of the program and additional support through a mobile health app called ZoeInsights (that is funded by Alberta Cancer Foundation) will be important.

“It’s always been my passion to go beyond the lab, and to build and implement community-based programs for cancer. With this funding, we can reach more cancer survivors, who may have limited access to cancer care resources,” says Dr. Culos-Reed.

This program will be facilitated by partnerships between the cancer care system (clinics/hospitals) and community-based fitness facilities. Such programs are essential to ensure effective exercise programming is sustainable and widely available to the growing population of rural cancer survivors.

Dr. May Lynn Quan – Preparing to survive: Improving outcomes for young women with breast cancer

About five per cent of all breast cancers occur in women under the age of 40. Given their life stage, challenges are unique and include having young children, potential loss of fertility and prolonged hormone treatment side effects during breast cancer treatment and survivorship. Studies supporting treatments for breast cancer lack data on young women and findings based on their older counterparts may not be applicable. Young women have poorer outcomes and the reasons why remain unclear. Dr. Quan’s research will address that.

“I am incredibly grateful for the generosity of Canadians who support research because cancer has touched their lives in some way. In partnership with survivors, these new funds will allow us to develop the unique supports that young women facing a new cancer can use in their journey,” says Dr. Quan.

This project is in response to the needs identified by patients in a Canada-wide study of 1000 women aged 40 and under with breast cancer. Together with young breast cancer survivors, families and their providers, the team will modify an existing self-management tool – a psycho-social support app – and will test how well it works to support the unique needs that young women and their families face when newly diagnosed with breast cancer.

“We know how passionate our donors are about helping to make life better for Albertans facing cancer. This program is clearly aligned to our core mandate and we are proud to partner with the Canadian Cancer Society and CIHR to bring this to Albertans.” says Wendy Beauchesne, CEO of Alberta Cancer Foundation.

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Paula Colvin
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Alberta Cancer Foundation
(780) 905-9273

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