Ottawa diagnosis lab

The Molecular Oncology Diagnostics Laboratory will focus on breast, lung, melanoma and colorectal cancer patient samples when it first opens. (CBC)

The Ottawa Hospital is hoping a new diagnostic centre for identifying cancers that could be treated through less invasive means will be open by the fall.

The hospital says it has raised half the $3 million it needs to open its own Molecular Oncology Diagnostics Laboratory.

Currently cancer patients in Ottawa who want to know if their particular disease could be treated with a targeted therapy instead of a one-size-fits all treatment like chemotherapy have to wait months before their samples can be assessed at labs in Toronto.

The Ottawa Hospital, which treated 24,000 cancer patients last year, said having a lab here in the city could cut the wait time for results to days instead of months.

The head of the new lab, Dr. Bryan Lo, said targeted treatments, if available, are far preferable to other options.

"When a cancer is discovered we'll really be characterizing genetically this cancer to try to determine if we can apply some of these newer targeted therapies. Therapies that are much less toxic and with fewer side effects," said Lo.

Jenn Miriguay, 37, has been living with cancer for five years and has gone through an arsenal of treatments, including chemotherapy, and lived through the side effects.

"It's an all-hazards approach, you throw everything at it that you can and hope and pray that it works," she said.

Dr. Brian Lo, Ottawa Hospital

Dr. Brian Lo said targeted treatments can be less toxic than broad-spectrum treatments such as chemotherapy. (CBC)

She said the new diagnosis centre has raised her hopes there will be an alternative way to treat her disease.

"The kids aren't going to have a grumpy mommy all the time, my husband's going to have a wife who wants to actively participate in life," she said.

The clinic, when it opens, will focus on analyzing samples from patients with breast, lung, melanoma and colorectal cancers, the four most common types of cancers for which targeted therapies are available.

The hospital hopes within a year of opening it will then be able to accept samples from all cancer patients.