TORONTO, ON –
Today, on World Cancer Day, the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) releases findings from a national survey of 700 patients and caregivers and is asking people in Canada to be a Voice for Change to help improve cancer care. The survey, the sixth to be conducted by CCS during the pandemic, was fielded in November 2022 to understand how, and to what extent, people living with cancer and their caregivers are still being impacted by COVID-19. It revealed that, while we are seeing improvements in some aspects of cancer care and support since the peak of the pandemic, access to care remains inconsistent across the country and vital needs are not consistently being met.
Among the key findings:
- About 1 in 4 respondents (25%) reported that they are still experiencing cancelled or postponed appointments.
- About one-third of patient respondents (33%) reported that they are not confident they will receive quality care in a timely fashion if they have a cancer-related emergency.
- Caregivers’ inability to accompany patients to cancer treatments or appointments remains the most widely reported disruption for both patients and caregivers, despite changes to many policies to allow 1 caregiver or support person to attend appointments again.
- The majority of patient and caregiver respondents reported that a consultation with a specialist is the most difficult type of medical care to access.
- For patients, the ability to ask questions is the most important support or resource they need to manage their care, whereas caregivers reported financial support is the most important support or resource needed.
“While exhausted healthcare providers are busy doing their very best to get Canadians the life-saving treatments and screenings they need, the cancer care system remains strained, and that needs to change,” says Dr Stuart Edmonds, Executive Vice President of Mission, Research and Advocacy at the Canadian Cancer Society. “With approximately 1.5 million people in Canada currently living with or beyond cancer, we must do everything in our power to ensure the needs of people with cancer and their caregivers are a priority as decision makers address the challenges to our healthcare system.”
To mark World Cancer Day, the Canadian Cancer Society is calling for everyone, everywhere to get involved in advocating to government to improve cancer care. The Get Better card-writing campaign invites people to use an online tool to create their own get better cards, not for their loved ones, but to send to elected officials. Through these cards, people can share their stories and the challenges they or a loved one faced when accessing cancer care in Canada, and CCS will print and deliver them to members of Parliament in the spring. The goal is to bring the lived experiences of people impacted by cancer to the forefront to help make cancer care better in all its forms: make early detection of cancer better, make backlogs and delays better, make drug access better, make palliative care better, and more. People can learn more and take action at cancer.ca/GetBetter.
The need for improvements to the cancer system has never been more urgent. Based on data from the Canadian Cancer Registry, we know that disruptions to cancer care during the pandemic, including screening and diagnostics, have led to delayed cancer diagnoses and fewer cases diagnosed. In 2020, there were 6.1% fewer new cancer cases compared to the annual average for 2015 to 2019, indicating a significant number of undetected cancer cases that will require treatment and care in the coming years, adding pressure to an already strained healthcare system.
“As governments, policymakers and administrators shape a healthcare system that has capacity to meet rising demands and weather the unexpected, they have a responsibility to ensure that system is designed with people at its core,” explains Dr Edmonds. “When it comes to cancer care, Canadians can help realize that vision by sharing their unique perspectives and experiences with cancer with elected officials through our Get Better tool. Because our voices are powerful and when we speak up together, governments listen.”
For Harjeet Kaur, a passionate advocate whose life was changed forever when she was diagnosed with advanced cancer in 2019, calling for government to improve cancer care has become an important part of her life. Among the improvements she’d like to see is equitable access to cancer drugs without financial hardship.
“I’ve seen a lot of people suffer from the cost of cancer medication and endless hours of emergency room visits, and that is not ok,” says Kaur. “In my case, I had a stem cell transplant, so I needed injections to boost my immune system. Even with a discount and insurance, they were expensive. We need to get better at ensuring everyone can access the drugs they need.”
World Cancer Day is a global day to honour and remember everyone affected by cancer and raise awareness about cancer, improve education, and catalyze personal, collective and government action to help change the future of cancer. This year, organizations around the world are focusing their efforts on uniting voices and taking action to address inequities in cancer care.
For those living with cancer and their caregivers, CCS continues to offer support programs that can help reduce anxiety and limit feelings of isolation. These programs include:
- Cancer Information Helpline – A national helpline, available in 200 languages, that is accessible to anyone with questions about cancer (1-888-939-3333, firstname.lastname@example.org or live chat at cancer.ca).
- Community Services Locator – A directory of over 4,500 services supporting those affected by cancer.
- CancerConnection.ca – An online forum to share experiences and support for anyone impacted by cancer.
- Cancer.ca hosts 2,400 pages of evidence-based information on more than 100 types of cancer for every stage of the cancer experience.
About the Canadian Cancer Society
The Canadian Cancer Society works tirelessly to save and improve lives. We fund the brightest minds in cancer research. We provide a compassionate support system for all those affected by cancer, across Canada and for all types of cancer. As the voice for people who care about cancer, we work with governments to shape a healthier society. No other organization does all that we do to make lives better today and transform the future of cancer forever.
Help us make a difference. Call 1-888-939-3333 or visit cancer.ca today.
For more information, please contact:
Tel : 905 510 4127