Province strengthens cancer care, expands access

Province of British Columbia
By Province of British Columbia
July 2nd, 2024

A year into the 10-Year Cancer Care Action Plan to build capacity and expand access to cancer-care services to meet growing demand, more people in B.C. are benefiting from expanded screening, more access to diagnostic tests and better treatment.

“The progress we have made in enhancing cancer care in just one year is a testament to our commitment to people in B.C. to deliver the best cancer care when and where we need it, and the hard work of our health-care professionals,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health.

“When we launched the 10-Year Cancer Action Plan, we promised to strengthen efforts to prevent, detect and treat cancers, that’s exactly what we’ve done.”

B.C. has been experiencing rapidly increasing demand for cancer-care services resulting from a growing and aging population as there more than 5.8 million people living in the province in 2023-24, an increase of almost 10% since 2020-21. Also, there are increasing rates of cancer among young people and, positively, a greater number of people with cancer living longer who require ongoing care.

To meet this growing need for cancer services, the Province has taken action and realized significant progress in 2023-24, one year since the plan’s launch:

Hiring more cancer-care professionals:

  • 92 cancer-care physicians have been hired, including 71 oncologists;
  • 32 additional radiation therapists; and
  • eight Indigenous patient navigators have been hired across all BC Cancer regional centres to directly support Indigenous patients.

Preventing and detecting cancer earlier:

  • 29,724 cervix self-screening kits have been distributed since B.C.’s program expanded provincewide with a first-in-Canada option to screen at home;
  • 27,326 more mammogram, colon and lung screenings were completed this year; and
  • 1,566 more positron emission tomography/computed tomography (PET/CT) scans were performed, a 9.9% increase.

Treating more people:

  • 19,161 medical oncology consultations took place last year, a 6.6% increase;
  • 20,005 radiation oncology consultations occurred, a 5.7% increase;
  • 84,441 IV chemotherapy treatment starts were delivered, a 9% increase;
  • 177,096 radiation treatments were delivered, a 4.7% increase;
  • 153 more urgent cancer surgeries were completed, a 1.1% increase;
  • 1,398 trips for cancer patients were funded through the Canadian Cancer Society Travel Treatment Fund, representing a 742% increase, and the 5,867 individual travel arrangements made for cancer patients by Hope Air represented a 309% increase; and
  • these efforts as well as recruitment of more radiation-therapy staff and expansion of lower volume and innovative radiotherapy services have helped 76.1% people receive radiation treatment within four weeks, an increase of 11.1%.

Optimizing care through collaboration and partnership:

  • 63 new clinical trials opened with 157 interventional clinical trials actively enrolling participants across B.C.;
  • 1,398 trips for cancer patients were funded through the Canadian Cancer Society Travel Treatment Fund, representing a 742% increase;
  •  5,867 individual travel arrangements made for cancer patients by Hope Air represented a 309% increase; and
  • 11,722 nights at Canadian Cancer Society lodges were provided at no cost to patients (previously $55 a night).

Investing in an expanded cancer care system:

  • four new cancer centres advancing in Burnaby, Surrey, Kamloops and Nanaimo that will bring the total to 10 regional cancer centres in B.C.;
  • $24.6 million invested in a new cyclotron and radiopharmacy laboratory to support expanded volume of PET/CT scans;  and
  • $90 million of additional funding to support cancer care was added for 2024-25.

“The first year of B.C.’s 10-year Cancer Action Plan included an unpreceded mobilization of resources and support to expand and improve care for people with cancer throughout the province,” said Dr. Kim Nguyen Chi, executive vice-president and chief medical officer, BC Cancer.

“Through this, and the collective commitment of our care teams and our partners, we are addressing today’s challenges and moving forward in our efforts to transform the system as a whole.”

Over the next year, the Province will continue taking action to further prevent, detect and treat cancers. This includes:

  • introducing new treatments, improved radiation-treatment technologies and new anti-cancer drug protocols;
  • expanding the use of the Get Vaccinated system to include the HPV vaccine;
  • making it easier for people without a primary care provider to access colon, breast and lung screening services;
  • reducing wait times for diagnostic tests;
  • continuing to expand clinical trials and cancer research facilities;
  • increasing BC Cancer’s Indigenous workforce and ensuring high-quality, culturally safe cancer care; and
  • continuing to hire key clinical and physician roles in alignment with B.C’s Health Human Resources strategy.

“As we move forward to ensure every patient receives effective, timely and compassionate care and secure a cancer-free future for more people in B.C., we will continue to expand cancer-care services to meet the increasing demand from our growing and aging population,” said Dix.

“We will meet that challenge, embrace that purpose and we will excel.”

Quick Facts:

  • One in two people in B.C. will face a cancer diagnosis in their lifetime.
  • This year, more than 34,000 people in B.C. will be diagnosed with cancer.
  • The number of people in B.C. who receive a new diagnosis of cancer is projected to increase from 34,000 in 2024 to 45,000 in 2034.
  • Currently, approximately two-thirds of people in B.C. diagnosed with cancer survive five years or more after a cancer diagnosis.
  • B.C. has the second-lowest age-adjusted mortality rate from cancer in Canada.
  • Since 2017, B.C. has committed more than $1 billion to support the creation of a strong and sustainable cancer-care system.

This post was syndicated from https://thenelsondaily.com
Categories: GeneralHealth