Major cancer prevention study off to a running start in Victoria
October 13, 2011
Victoria – The BC Cancer Agency’s BC Generations Project Victoria assessment centre is off to a running start with the enthusiasm of Vancouver Island residents who are stepping forward to take part in the largest cancer prevention study in Canadian history.
All British Columbia residents aged 35 to 69 are eligible to join the BC Generations Project, which will help researchers explore how genetics, environment, and lifestyle contribute to our risk of developing cancer, as well as other chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. The project is part of the Canadian Partnership for Tomorrow Project, a national study that seeks to collect health information, physical measurements and samples from up to 300,000 Canadians.
“All of us have been affected by cancer in some way and the BC Generations Project is a chance to fight back,” said Oak Bay-Gordon Head MLA Ida Chong on behalf of Health Minister Michael de Jong. “Until the end of November, Island residents have a direct opportunity to sign up to help researchers explore the causes behind cancer and, ultimately, to help find a cure.”
The BC Generations Project began sending invitation letters to households in Victoria and Island communities last month. The response has been extraordinary, according to Dr. John Spinelli, BC Generations Project principal investigator and a distinguished scientist at the BC Cancer Agency, an agency of the Provincial Health Services Authority.
“Our phones and email have been very busy with Vancouver Island residents contacting us to join the project,” he explains. “More than 1,000 people have already booked appointments, which is the best early response we’ve ever seen with our community outreaches.”
Assessment centre appointments are an optional yet informative part of the project. They include bone density, body mass and blood pressure measurements, which are shared with the participant. Individuals who are unable to come for an appointment can also join the study by signing up to receive a mail-in questionnaire.
When Victoria resident Sylvia McQuillan received her invitation letter, she didn’t hesitate to join. “Cancer is prevalent in our family and I have daughters and grandchildren,” she explains. “The more people participate in this project, the closer we will get to discovering the causes of cancer.”
Dr. Spinelli notes that in Victoria, the greatest response so far has been from women aged 60-69. “We’d really like to encourage younger residents—especially men—to step forward as well,” he says. “Having a diverse cross section of participants will be very important when we start using this information for research studies.”
“Cancer researchers see this as a hugely valuable resource,” says Dr. Ivo Olivotto, Vice President, Radiation Therapy and Functional Imaging, Vancouver Island Centre, BC Cancer Agency. “By collecting this sort of information from hundreds of thousands of people across Canada, this project will help us tease out how the interplay of genes, lifestyle, environment and other factors can be used to prevent cancer or select which treatments are really necessary for each individual.”
The Victoria assessment centre runs now until late November and is located in the Esquimalt United Church at 500 Admirals Road in Victoria. The centre is funded with generous support from the BC Cancer Foundation and the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer.
For more information about the study and how to get involved, please contact:
Toll Free: 1-877-675-8221