07/30/2012 04:52 EDT | Updated 09/29/2012 05:12 EDT

Two new oncologists hired to treat cancer patients in southern Alberta

LETHBRIDGE, Alta. - Alberta Health Services says it has hired two new medical oncologists to treat cancer patients in southern Alberta starting in September.

Dr. Malcolm Bridgen and Dr. Faraj El-Gehani will be based in Lethbridge.

Bridgen has been practising in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., and will serve as medical director and staff medical oncologist at the Jack Ady Cancer Centre.

El-Gehani will join him as a staff oncologist once he completes his specialty training at the Cross Cancer Institute in Edmonton.

The Jack Ady Cancer Centre has been without a permanent medical oncologist since March when Dr. David Holland retired after 23 years.

A spokesman for Alberta Health Services says recruiting medical oncologists is a challenge as only about 15 graduate each year in Canada.

The specialists are doctors who assist in diagnosing and are expert in treating cancer with chemotherapy and other therapies.

The Jack Ady Cancer Centre opened in 2010 to make Lethbridge the first Alberta city outside of Edmonton and Calgary to offer radiation therapy.

Radiation treatments are scheduled to expand further with services planned for Red Deer next year and Grande Prairie in 2015.