A pioneering program based out of the Cedars Cancer Centre is giving new hope to young people who have this rare – and often deadly – form of cancer

Every year, over 300 people in Quebec are diagnosed with sarcomas: a rare, complex and deadly group of cancers that arise in bones and connective tissues. Most of those people are adolescents and young adults (AYAs), between the ages of 15 and 39.  Sadly, there are few treatment options for sarcoma. What’s more, because there are far fewer clinical trials available to AYAs than there are to children and older adults, they risk missing-out on innovative, life-saving therapies.

A new program based out of the Cedars Cancer Centre is trying to change all that.

The Sarcoma Research Consortium of Quebec – aka SaRC-Q – is the brainchild of Quebec’s leading sarcoma experts, Dr. Ramy Saleh (of the Cedars Cancer Centre) and Dr. Jonathan Noujaim (of the Hôpital Maisonneuve-Rosemont). It was born at the beginning of 2023, out of their collective passion for conquering sarcoma and the shared belief that sarcoma patients deserve better. They decided to pool their knowledge and resources to create a platform for transformative change.

With the help of funding from the Cedars Cancer Foundation, SaRC-Q has grown quickly. It’s now comprised of a dynamic team of adult and pediatric oncologists from 12 hospitals across the province, who are extensively trained and experienced in the field of sarcoma and who share data and expertise.

After just a year, SaRC-Q is already providing real, tangible benefits.

Better access to sarcoma specialists

“SaRC-Q connects sarcoma patients from across Quebec to specialists who can guide them through every possible treatment option. This means that all sarcoma patients, regardless of where they live, are now getting access to the very best treatment and care,” explains Dr. Saleh.

More cutting-edge treatment options

“More clinical trials means more treatment options, which means more chance of survival. Historically, there were only one or two clinical trials in sarcoma per year in Quebec. Since SaRC-Q members started reaching-out to pharmaceutical companies last year, that number of clinical trials has already reached six, and there are another eight in the pipeline,” he says.

A one-stop shop for sarcoma information

“Our website has become a reliable online resource for sarcoma patients, and our team of experts is an invaluable resource for other oncologists,” he adds.

“Cedars is really proud to have helped get this project off the ground,” says Jeff J. Shamie, President and CEO of the Cedars Cancer Foundation. “SaRC-Q is the only doctor-driven cancer consortium in Quebec, and it’s giving hope to young sarcoma patients and their families.”

To find out more or to make a donation, visit www.sarcq.com

The Jackie Aziz Adolescent and Young Adult Program at Cedars

Supporting the unique needs of AYA cancer patients

Jackie Aziz

“Effecting positive change is all I ever wanted to do.” – Jackie Aziz

Launched in 2023, the Jackie Aziz Adolescent and Young Adult Program at Cedars (Jax AYA Program) is designed to improve the quality of care and of life of young Montrealers who are living with cancer. It was established by the Aziz family, to honour their daughter Jackie, who passed away at the age of 23 after a five-year battle with sarcoma. Funds raised through the AYA Program fund have enabled the MUHC Cancer Care Mission to employ a small team dedicated to cancer patients in the 18 to 39 age group:

A Patient Care Navigator, who supports patients by coordinating their clinical care, helping them with their medical, psychosocial and practical needs, and organizing group activities; and
A Clinical Research Associate, who facilitates their access to research and clinical trials.

Jax AYA Program logo“The AYA Program aims to reduce barriers to research, improves survival rates, and enhance the well-being of AYA patients, who have very unique needs and issues,” says Cedars President and CEO, Jeff J. Shamie. “Thanks to the program, the Cedars Cancer Centre now offers better support to these young patients at every stage of their cancer journey: diagnosis, treatment, survivorship, and, if required, end-of-life.”

To find out more about the Jackie Aziz Adolescent and Young Adult Program at Cedars, or to make a donation, visit: www.cedars.ca/en/what-we-do/funds/jackie-aziz-legacy-fund-at-cedars

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