Friday, March 21, 2008

Cancer Care Ontario Releases Action Plan for Improving Provincial Cancer Services

Cancer services better today, action needed to meet a 40 per cent increase in cancer patients in next 10 years

Toronto (March 20, 2008) – Cancer Care Ontario today released the 2008-2011 Ontario Cancer Plan, an action plan designed to boost cancer screening rates, improve access to diagnostic and treatment services, make cancer services better and safer, and put new cancer research into practice, faster.

"More people are surviving cancer and cancer services are better today than ever because of actions that have been taken in recent years," says Terrence Sullivan, President and CEO, Cancer Care Ontario.

"We cannot afford to be complacent because 40 per cent more people will be living with cancer in the next decade. By working with our partners to take the steps set out in the Ontario Cancer Plan, fewer people will get cancer and more will survive a diagnosis and receive better services, every step of the way."

The 2008-2011 Ontario Cancer Plan is a three-year road map for the province’s cancer system. It sets out the actions that need to be taken to control cancer and improve patient care. This is the second Ontario Cancer Plan. The first plan was released in 2004.

"We have made huge gains in the fight against cancer since the first Ontario Cancer Plan," said George Smitherman, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health and Long-Term Care. "In the last five years our government has added more quality services for patients suffering with cancer. This has reduced wait times significantly and has allowed patients to get quality cancer care closer to home. We will continue to work side by side with Cancer Care Ontario and health providers on the front lines to lessen the toll of cancer."

The 2008-2011 Ontario Cancer Plan has six goals and highlights four key actions that will have the greatest impact on cancer in the next three years:

  1. Boosting cancer screening rates through aggressive education about screening, providing tools to help primary care providers and patients participate in screening, including using IT to send invitations, reminders and prompts about screening. Cancer Care Ontario will work with our partners to reach under-screened groups including low income earners, new Canadians, people without a family physician and Aboriginals.
  2. Improving the time to diagnosis by beginning to measure and set targets for the wait time between a referral from a family physician to when the patient sees a specialist for tests.
  3. Raising the quality of regional cancer services through implementing improvements including; providing better access to chemotherapy in community hospitals, closer to home; making highly complex chemotherapy and lung surgery safer; and making intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) the gold standard radiation therapy.
  4. Ensuring the high quality and safe introduction of tests that can predict people’s response to treatment and cancer risks, and enable individualized therapy – referred to as molecular medicine.

Significant progress has been made since the first Ontario Cancer Plan. Wait times for radiation and cancer surgery have been steadily going down; regional cancer services and centres have greatly expanded; there are fewer smokers because of Smoke-Free Ontario Act; and the colorectal cancer screening and HPV vaccination programs will save lives.

Growing Number of People with Cancer, Need for Services

  • Close to half of all people will develop cancer in their lifetime: 44 per cent of men and 39 per cent of women.
  • Sixty per cent of cancer patients survive 5-years or more after a cancer diagnosis, up from less than half two decades ago. Almost all prostate cancer patients and 90 per cent of breast patients live more than five years after a diagnosis.
  • In 2007 the province spent $176 million on 27,000 intravenous chemotherapy treatments. In 2011-2012, it is projected that Ontario could spend an estimated $446 million on 49,000 chemotherapy treatments. Cancer Care Ontario continually improves cancer services so that fewer people get cancer and patients receive better care.

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