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New report calls for urgent focus on cancer care following COVID-19 pandemic disruptions

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Innovative work underway and identifies improvements to boost cancer system capacity

The Canadian Partnership Against Cancer (the Partnership) today released a new report, The road to recovery: Cancer in the COVID-19 era, that urges policymakers and health system leaders to consider cancer a priority in the wake of the pandemic.

Noting that time is of the essence, the report also shares innovative solutions already underway by partners in parts of Canada – which can be used as models for improvement by other communities across the country.

“Canada must not forget cancer when allocating healthcare resources as we continue to deal with the impacts of the pandemic,” said Dr. Craig Earle, CEO of the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer. “The Partnership’s priority from the start of the pandemic was on meeting the needs of people with cancer whose disease did not stop, even as much of the world did, and our cancer system partners have done incredible work to deliver care during this challenging time. As we shift to pandemic recovery, we’re keeping our focus on cancer and we urge others to do the same.”

Lives are at stake. One study predicts the possibility of more than 20,000 additional cancer-related deaths over the next 10 years.i However, that could be reduced by almost 16,000 if the cancer system’s diagnostic and treatment capacity is increased 10% above pre-pandemic levels.ii

Putting the focus on cancer in key areas

“Strengthening Canada’s cancer system starts with getting a clear picture of what’s happening today, and what kinds of responses and investments will be needed for the future,” said Dr. Earle. “Policy-makers and cancer system leaders should take action now to focus on the key areas identified in The road to recovery, and can draw on the many examples of innovative, practical actions already underway across the country the report highlights.”

These actions and solutions can be found here: https://www.partnershipagainstcancer.ca/topics/cancer-in-covid-19-era/actions-solutions/

The road to recovery: Cancer in the COVID-19 era identifies a number of challenges that arose during the pandemic, such as delays in cancer screening and diagnosis, disruption of cancer prevention services, treatment and care, and pressures on the healthcare workforce. This resulted in real impacts on real people, exacerbating health and social inequities, with a disproportionate effect on First Nations, Inuit and Métis.

The report notes that, as COVID-19 continues to disrupt Canada’s cancer system, attention needs to be given to three key focus areas to boost system capacity and save lives: (1) solving the healthcare human resources crunch, (2) preparing for a surge in cases, and (3) leveraging the potential of new ways of delivering care including those supported by digital technologies.

It also highlights the fact that, to improve care and outcomes for cancer patients, health equity must be at the forefront of Canada’s pandemic response and recovery.

The report brings together recent data and research from partners across Canada, and it also shares examples and stories of innovative approaches already underway to improve cancer care.

“Throughout the pandemic, healthcare professionals and cancer system partners across Canada dedicated themselves to supporting patients and their families through a very difficult period,” said the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Health. “Our government is committed to improving access to health care and supporting healthcare professionals to ensure Canadians have access to the care they deserve. This timely and insightful report provides examples and ideas to improve cancer care for patients everywhere.”

Share your thoughts, actions and innovations on the road to recovery using #FocusOnCancer.

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