Report Card on Cancer in Canada Launched Today

ANNUAL REPORT CARD ON CANCER IN CANADA(TM) REVEALS CANADIANS FIGHTING CANCER ON TWO FRONTS: THE DISEASE AND THE SYSTEM

Cancer Advocacy Coalition of Canada Provides New Insights into Current Cancer Landscape
Toronto, ON, April 12, 2011 – The Cancer Advocacy Coalition of Canada (CACC) reveals in its 2010-2011 Report Card on Cancer in Canada that the current roadmap for cancer care in this country presents patients with numerous unnecessary barriers to accessing the care and support they need, from prevention programs, to timely diagnostics and access to treatment. At a time when they are at their weakest and most vulnerable, too often Canadian cancer patients are forced to fight not only their disease, but the healthcare system as whole, making an already complex and challenging journey even harder.

“In the past two years approximately 345,000 Canadians were diagnosed with cancer and many of them will have encountered the numerous barriers and roadblocks to care that our healthcare system presents to cancer patients,” says Dr. Pierre Major, Co-Chair, CACC Board of Directors and Report Card Committee Chair. “As health professionals, we’re working against discouraging odds to adjust to increasing constraints, shifting priorities, growing caseloads and a lack of capital and human resources. We shouldn’t have to fight the system to get our patients the diagnostics and treatments we know they desperately need.”

The CACC’s annual Report Card on Cancer in Canada is the country’s only independent evaluation of cancer system performance. The 2010-2011 Report Card asks the question on behalf of all Canadians touched by cancer, “Why should our governments make an already tough fight even harder?”, and calls on governments to work together to find solutions to the current crisis in access to cancer care.

“This year’s Report Card highlights the burden carried by cancer patients as they cope with their disease and some issues in the design of cancer care that need improvement,” says Dr. Major. “Whether we look at the lack of prevention programs that could prevent thousands of women from developing breast cancer, or to the decline of clinical trials in Canada that provide patients access to new and potentially effective therapies, or to the under-utilization of nurse practitioners and pharmacists in cancer care, we see that our cancer care system needs an overhaul. Patients, caregivers and healthcare professionals are embattled at every turn, just to ensure patients have a fighting chance against this disease.”

2010-2011 Report Card Highlights
Cancer Prevention in Canada: The Sooner the Better

Despite compelling evidence that a large sector of high-risk women would benefit from lifestyle and medical interventions to prevent breast cancer, Canada lacks dedicated cancer prevention centres and organized cancer prevention programs. Prevention is the single most cost-effective initiative Canada could implement, and if prevention programs were put into place today, data show the result would be several thousand fewer cases each year and millions of dollars in savings for governments.
Should Clinical Trials be Considered Part of the “Standard of Care” for Cancer Patients?
Clinical trials allow cancer patients access to potentially effective new therapies and make a significant contribution to cancer survivorship, contributing to higher quality care. Data show that institutions with high participation rates in clinical trials have better patient outcomes, yet less than seven per cent of Canadian adults with cancer are enrolled in clinical trials. The Report Card looks at why Canada is rapidly falling behind other countries in its capacity to undertake patient research.
The Role of the Nurse Practitioner and Clinical Pharmacist in Collaborative Patient Care
As Canada’s population ages, the prevalence of cancer will continue to increase and the rise in the volume of patients will need to be met with an expansion of oncology services. Expanding the roles of nurse practitioners and pharmacists within collaborative patient care agreements will be crucial to meet the needs of patients and address the changing cancer care landscape.

Physician Advocacy and Institutional Fidelity
While medical institutions and professional associations publicly endorse physicians advocating for the best care for their patients, few physicians get engaged in advocacy activities due to a lack of training and concerns about the impact on their career. The majority of oncologists are employees of healthcare institutions and formal or informal fidelity agreements limit advocates’ ability to speak publicly about a number of issues, effectively putting corporate loyalty ahead of the best interests of patients.

To read the full Report Card, visit: www.canceradvocacy.ca

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