‘We need to do better’: Survey shows cancer care remains inconsistent across Canada

The Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) is calling on the federal government to do more for cancer patients, as the system continues to struggle nearly three years after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

February 4 is World Cancer Day. It’s an important day for Sandra Perrault, who was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2021.

Perrault said: “I’m very grateful and happy that my story turned out to be a good one and I had a positive outcome. Unfortunately, that’s not the case for others and I believe they do. We need to do better.”

The CCS has released the results of a national survey that shows patient care for those undergoing cancer treatment has not improved since the peak of the pandemic.

Among other problems reported by 700 cancer patients and caregivers surveyed across Canada was the difficulty of making appointments with oncologists.

At the same time, 25% of respondents said they still experience canceled or postponed appointments, and 33% said they are not confident they will receive quality care in time if there is an emergency. related to cancer.

Perrault said it was difficult for her to receive treatment during the pandemic. “Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, access to doctors is severely reduced and limited, most appointments are by phone rather than in person,” she said. “So you don’t get checked by a doctor, it’s a very different situation.”

She said communication between her and her doctor was affected, and as a result it took a long time to get her properly diagnosed.

“I had to have surgery right away, while it was very likely – if I had been diagnosed earlier – that there would have been a different treatment,” Perrault said.

CCS says its survey – conducted in November 2022 – shows patient care has not improved enough.

A CCS press release said: “While we are seeing improvements in several aspects of cancer care and support since the height of the pandemic, access to care remains inconsistent across the country and essential needs are not consistently met.”

Perrault is calling on the federal government to increase funding for cancer treatment, which will provide better access to early screening. “The sooner we can detect it, the better the outcome and the better quality of life afterwards,” she said.

She added the government could also subsidize the cost of drugs more. “Especially for chemotherapy drugs and other drugs that you buy over-the-counter to help fight and help you treat that disease, and the side effects of that treatment,” says Perrault.

She said we also need more specialists and surgeons in our system, and better support caregivers.

“I myself have been off work for seven months,” says Perrault. My husband stopped everything and took care of me.

She says she’s grateful to her husband, family, and staff at St. Boniface for all they did for her.

Perrault is now asking anyone affected by cancer to participate in CCS’s Get Better tag writing campaign.

It asks Canadians to visit the CancerCare website to send digital postcards to their Member of Parliament asking for more cancer treatment funding.

Perrault says you can also send a real postcard to your MP. “Just tell them your story, just say we need to do better… we need more funding,” she said.

“We need to do better and we can.”

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