Archive for November, 2012

Annual Gala Makes Fashion Statement

The Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada’s (CCAC) 3rd Annual Gala was yet again an outstanding success, raising over 300,000$. Supporters, patients, survivors and family members flocked together at the Windsor on Nov. 6th for an evening of red carpet glamour and couture.

“True to its promise, the CCAC delivered one of the best fashion shows in Canada as part of its annual Gala fundraiser. Funds raised from this magnificent event will help ensure the delivery of important programs in awareness and education, support and advocacy on behalf of patients in Quebec and across Canada,” said CCCA President Barry Stein.

Hosted by the beautiful and charismatic Anne-Marie Withenshaw, the event featured a silent auction, a live auction, a Java U-catered cocktail dînatoire, and an exclusive showing of PAVONI‘s Resort and Spring/Summer 2013 collections.
The Montreal-based design duo, made up of Mike Derderian and Gianni Falcone, are known for their crystal covered, tulle puffed creations. These beautiful works of art have been seen on celebrities such as Kylie Minogue and country popstar Miranda Lambert at the Grammys.

From micro-minis to Cinderella-worthy ballgowns, the runway lineup wowed attendees with its lavishness only to be further embellished by stunning pieces from Anzie Jewelry.

Delighted with this year’s outcome, Stein wished to extend a heartfelt thanks to all of the dedicated supporters, volunteers and sponsors who contributed to the success of this wonderful event, particularly their Platinum sponsor, INTACT who generously donated 40K to the Association. Silver sponsors of the event included; Bayer, Sanofi and Hoffman La Roche.

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Annual Ostomy Education Day Success

The annual Ostomy Education Day organized by The Ostomy Care and Supply Center’s Andrea (Andy) Manson,RN ET and staff was held at the Metrotown Hilton Hotel in Burnaby on October 27, 2012. Each year the Center gives back to customers, patients, and families with a day of information, networking, and support.

The topics included:

• Updates in treatments for colorectal cancer presented by the Director of Education & Clinical Information from the Colorectal Cancer Assoc. of Canada.
• New treatments and research into Inflammatory Bowel Disease was outlined by Alison Obrecht from Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of Canada.
• And, after a wonderful buffet lunch, Allison Mindlin, Genetic Counselor, explained the intricacies of Genetic Counseling.

This was also an opportunity to see products and talk to the manufacturers of ostomy products and accessories:

• Coloplast,
• Hollister,
• Convatec,
• Salts and
• NaScent.

Other exhibitors included: I.D.E.A.S, United Ostomy Association of Vancouver, Bladder Cancer Canada, Colorectal Association of Canada, and BCCA Hereditary Cancer Program. The response from the 300 attendees was very positive and they look forward to next year’s event!

BC Launches Provincewide Colorectal Cancer Screening Program

Last week, Health Minister Margaret MacDiarmid announced that British Columbia is launching a co-ordinated provincewide colorectal cancer screening program to assist in early detection of the disease and help save lives. “In its earliest stages colorectal cancer can have absolutely no symptoms, but catching it early greatly increases the survival rate,” said MacDiarmid. “This is why regular screening and detection are so important. This new program recognizes that family physicians are key influencers for patients in deciding to participate in cancer screening programs and physicians are also well equipped to speak to their patients about risk factors and prevention.”

The provincewide colorectal program will launch on April 1, 2013, with the introduction of the publicly-funded fecal immunochemical test (FIT), which is easier for patients to complete at home and requires no medicinal or diet changes. The complete provincial colorectal screening program will be phased in, with all health authorities on board during the spring and summer of 2013.

The new program will build on the experiences of the pilot Colon Check colorectal cancer screening program, which has been running in a number of B.C. communities since 2009.

It will be primary-care-based, with general practitioners referring patients between the ages of 50 and 74 without symptoms for a screening test once every two years. Patients with a significant family history of colorectal cancer will be referred to their regional health authority for a screening colonoscopy.

Patient co-ordinators will provide patients who are referred for a colonoscopy with support to help make the experience easier and ensure colonoscopy resources are used most effectively. Recognizing that early detection saves lives, the program will focus on increasing patient participation in colorectal screening and will have a centralized system for data collection and monitoring in order to assess patient uptake and outcomes.

The program will send reminders to patients and physicians to let them know when rescreening is needed.

“There is no doubt that timely screening and detection of colorectal cancer can save lives. This is a disease that is preventable, treatable and beatable. Coupled with healthy lifestyles, screening will not only help prevent the disease, but will catch more people with early stage disease and provide them with a better opportunity for a cure,” said Barry D. Stein, president of the Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada, who is also a survivor of late-stage colon cancer.

“A provincewide screening program is something we have advocated for and we are pleased that B.C. has made the commitment to move forward with this program,” said Stein.

In the coming months, the Provincial Health Services Authority and the BC Cancer Agency will develop a governance structure and implementation plan for the new screening program. They will also work together to enhance public awareness, develop a centralized participant registry and patient recall system, create quality assurance standards for the program and implement a system for data collection and outcome monitoring.

The Ministry of Health, through the Medical Services Plan, will support general practitioner and specialist (colonoscopist) fees, and the laboratory fee for the FIT. The BC Cancer Agency will provide overall leadership and provincial oversight of the new model.

“I just thought that I was having a recurrence of a hemorrhoids issue. I was only 43 years old, seven years younger than the primary risk group, so I decided to speak to my doctor about this,” said colorectal cancer survivor, Deb Imada. “Having this discussion with my doctor has likely saved my life, which is why a provincewide screening program to support early detection is of key importance for helping to save others from this silent killer type of cancer.

“People don’t think about these cancers developing, and a lot of times there are no symptoms,” added Imada. “But one simple test can literally save your life. It’s a win, win situation and I am excited that our province has recognized the great importance and need for screening. Thanks to my early diagnosis and treatments that followed, I am now able to look forward to a future with my young son.”

“I was diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2006, which was within the first year of my retirement,” said colorectal cancer survivor, Doug Shirlaw. “I have now been out of treatment for almost six years and am doing well, but I am one of the fortunate few. I saw a number of members of my colon cancer support group die because their diagnosis came too late.”

“An early screening program will save lives and certainly turn this serious disease into one that is both treatable and beatable. I am extremely pleased and supportive of this early screening program,” added Shirlaw.

For more information on colorectal cancer and screening, please visit:

High Tech Ways of Mitigating a Huge Public Health Threat: Colorectal Cancer

Among Canadians, colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related mortality. In 2011 alone, approximately 22,200 Canadians were diagnosed with colorectal cancer, and 8,900 died of the disease. In 2012, the number is expected to grow by at least 1,000. The average lifetime cost of managing patients with colorectal cancer ranges from CA$20,319 to $39,182 per case. In 2000, hospitalization and treatment costs of patients was estimated to be over $500 million. While awareness of the dangers of colorectal cancer is high due to a number of nationwide information campaigns, many are still unaware of the groundbreaking work being done to promote prevention and treatment. Over the past decade, mortality rates among for colorectal cancer among male and female patients have been on the decline thanks to increasingly effective screening procedures that lead to identifying and removing precancerous polyps.

One such emerging technology in colorectal cancer screening is the stool DNA test. The test detects DNA markers shed from cells of premalignant adenomas and cancers into the stool, potentially predicting and detecting both preclinical and clinical colorectal cancer. The test has a higher degree of sensitivity and specificity for colorectal cancer than previous screening procedures, and is also largely viewed as more “patient-friendly”: no dietary preparation is required and the test is noninvasive. The hope for many cancer researchers and medical professionals is that the test will lead to improved cost-effectiveness of colorectal cancer screening, as well as increased rates of detection.

Though colon cancer incidences are roughly equivalent in men and women, the cancer often manifests itself differently in each gender. Due to these differences, colon cancer in women was only found in 1/3rd of attempted studies. A recent study at Northwestern University, led by Professor of Biomedical Engineering Vadim Backman, has found that combining novel optical technologies with common colon cancer screening tests may allow doctors to more accurately detect the presence of colon cancer, especially in women. The process an optical probe to measure the early increase in blood supply in rectal tissue as a marker for colon cancer. “This increased level of detail allows us to discover new markers for disease, which we hope will provide new methods to identify cancer in its earliest stages,” says Backman.

While colorectal cancer remains one of the most potentially devastating diseases one could contract, recent advancements offer a glimmer of hope for those with a history of the disease in their family. Currently, the disease is 90% preventable if precancerous polyps are detected and removed early. Research and technology today is allowing medical professionals at Health Canada Pharmacy to determine risk and effectively recommend treatments with greater precision than ever before. Awareness of these advancements among the general public can foster the concern necessary to raise funds and allocate resources for the organizations that work to enhance treatment and potentially even find a cure.

Written by guest blogger Charlotte Kellogg