University of Calgary

New colon cancer screening centre opens its doors in Calgary

By Communications Staff
Posted January 22, 2008

The ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Forzani & MacPhail Colon Cancer Screening Centre.: Photo by Laurie WangJohn Forzani (left, holding scissors) and Keith MacPhail cut the ribbon at a ceremony at the Forzani & MacPhail Colon Cancer Screening Centre.: Photo by Laurie WangThe Forzani & MacPhail Colon Cancer Screening Centre officially opened its doors today. The centre is operated by the Faculty of Medicine in partnership with the Calgary Health Region and will see approximately 10,000 people this year, doubling that number within two years. Additionally, the centre will boost endoscopic capacity in the Calgary area by 50 per cent.

"This is a tremendous step forward in preventing and treating colon cancer," says Dr. Ron Bridges, Associate Dean, Clinical Affairs, Faculty of Medicine / Calgary Health Region. "The significant commitment that the CHR and University of Calgary have made in opening this centre reflects what we now know about this disease - we can prevent colon cancer if we detect it through screening in its earliest stages. Calgary now leads the country with a comprehensive approach and commitment to screening."

The centre, located in the University of Calgary's Teaching, Research and Wellness building, is named for its two founding donors - The Forzani Group Foundation and Calgary business leader Keith MacPhail. Through Reach!, the joint fundraising initiative of the Calgary Health Region and the University of Calgary, The Forzani Group Foundation and the MacPhail Family donated over $2.7 million toward the centre.

"What excited me most about this project from the very start is the preventive aspect," says John Forzani, President, The Forzani Group Foundation. "This isn't just about detecting cancer early; this is about preventing it all together. Through this Centre we are now able to prevent numerous cases of colon cancer from ever developing, which will have an incredible impact on the long term health of the community."

The centre will improve access and shorten wait times for screening and for those with acute digestive health problems.

"With a growing and aging population, we need to have available the expertise and facilities to address specific health care issues," says Ron Stevens, Deputy Premier, Province of Alberta. "The colon cancer screening centre is an excellent example of how we can develop and apply that expertise to better meet specialized and growing capacity needs. And through the screening aspect, help diagnose these cancers sooner and perhaps prevent some patients from having to enter the health care system in the first place."

"Another significant focus of this centre is to foster public awareness, and provide medical education programs on colon cancer screening and prevention," says Dr. Bridges.

The Centre will also serve as a key facility for clinical research initiatives, including evaluating current and potential techniques for screening such as fecal occult blood testing, virtual colonography, fecal genetic testing, blood markers, and pill cameras. Population health research will explore the risk factors for colon cancer, and pursue promising new screening techniques and treatments.

Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in Alberta. One in 14 men and 1 in 17 women in Alberta will develop this disease in their lifetime. There have been 580 deaths annually and more than 1400 new cases each year across the province. The risk of colon cancer increases with age. Screening for the disease is recommended for everyone over 50. Those with a family history of colon cancer should potentially begin screening at a younger age.

The Centre is also supported by funding from the Alberta Cancer Board to develop information technology aimed at enhancing patient care, improving reporting, and undertaking clinical research.

Read the official news release.

Visit the Forzani & MacPhail Colon Cancer Screening Centre website.

Read the article in the Calgary Herald. | Download a PDF of the Herald article.

Read the article in the Calgary Sun.

About the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Calgary

The U of C's Faculty of Medicine is a national leader in health research with an international reputation for excellence and innovation in health care research, education and delivery. Through its educational programs, the Faculty of Medicine trains the physicians and scientists who will lead the next generation of health practitioners. Through its clinical work, continuing medical education programs, and close relationship with the Calgary Health Region, the Faculty of Medicine moves new treatments and diagnostic techniques from the laboratory bench to the hospital bedside efficiently and effectively, improving patient care.

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