Canadian Strategy for Cancer Control

Canadian Council for Cancer Control Governance Policies

The Vision

The Canadian Cancer Control Strategy will reduce the expected number of Canadians being diagnosed with cancer, reduce the severity of the illness, enhance the quality of life of those with cancer, and reduce the likelihood of dying from the disease, through consistent and effective application of existing knowledge, and through generation of new knowledge by research, across the cancer control spectrum.

Goals for the Canadian Strategy for Cancer Control

  • Reduced incidence of cancer, mortality, and morbidity;
  • Increased quality of life for those living with, or recovering from cancer;
  • Equitable access to evidence-based cancer control intervention;
  • Improved integration of cancer health care, from primary to palliative care;
  • Re-balanced investments that sustain effective prevention, psychosocial/supportive and palliative care;
  • Empowered patients; and
  • Harmonization with provincial, territorial and federal health plans

CANADIAN STRATEGY FOR CANCER CONTROL ACTION PLAN PRIORITIES

The proposed Canadian Council for Cancer Control will oversee and coordinate implementation activities, starting with the following priority areas:

1. Standards and Guidelines

Establish an interprovincial mechanism to develop evidence-based national standards and guidelines in key aspects of cancer control, starting with diagnosis, treatment and cure.

2. Primary Prevention

Establish a national, provincial/territorial, and municipal primary prevention system to address population-based risk factors for cancer and other chronic diseases, by collaborating with chronic disease constituencies.

3. Rebalance Focus

Reform care systems, improve human and fiscal resources, and establish standards for universal and equitable access to high quality psychosocial/supportive/rehabilitative, and palliative care.

4. Human Resources

Establish a national comprehensive strategy for human resources.

5. Research Priorities

Define research priorities and create a plan for strategic investment in priority areas.

 

Canadian Strategy for Cancer Control

"Improved management of the system will require enhanced partnerships among policy makers, service providers and users of the system through more collaborative planning, priority setting, public policy development and implementation"

Cancer is the disease Canadians most fear. One in three Canadians develops cancer during their lifetime and one half of those will become long-term survivors. Most Canadians know at lease one person affected by cancer.

Gaps between supply of services and demand on the cancer care system, particularly of human resources, are already evident in lengthy waiting lists and patients being sent elsewhere for care.

The number of cancer cases in Canada will more than double over the next fifteen years because of growth and aging of the population, unless we change current trends. To address these challenges, we need:

  • more systematic application of current knowledge to change those trends through primary prevention and early detection and to further improve survival and quality of life;
  • collaborative planning to enable us to better cope with that part of the increased burden which is unavoidable
  • to generate new knowledge across the spectrum of cancer control

Most provinces have provincial cancer agencies or equivalents providing coordinated specialized care for cancer patients, but much of cancer diagnosis and surgery remains outside of these coordinated programs and there is little coordination of activities between provinces. Gaps in the supply of highly-specialized human resource crisis are exacerbated by duplication and lack of cooperation, and even competition, across provinces. The volunteer experts, cancer survivors, allied health professionals and caregivers who participated in the planning process referred to as the Canadian Strategy for Cancer Control believe that a national strategy has the potential to bring about the sustained, coordinated comprehensive and collaborative national approach to cancer needed to meet these challenges.

Over 250 health care professionals, community representatives, and representatives of territorial, provincial and federal health ministries participated in the production of 12 theme-specific reports, developing strategies and recommendations in the areas of prevention, screening, diagnosis, treatment, supportive care, palliative care, genetics, childhood cancer, research, surveillance, informatics technology, and human resources.

Recommendations for priority action include:

  • rebalancing the focus of cancer control (to enhance neglected areas of prevention, palliative and supportive care);
  • integrated care;
  • standards;
  • accountability and reporting;
  • education;
  • human resources; and
  • research

The vision: a national strategy for cancer control which will optimize the benefits of current knowledge and available resources for cancer control, while enhancing the sustainability of the health care system through "more collaborative planning, priority setting, public policy development and implementation."

The benefits: reduced risk of cancer, more equitable access to care, reduced suffering, improved quality of life and controlled costs.

Many of the elements needed to achieve this vision are in place: provincial cancer agencies in most provinces, a strong voluntary sector, national surveillance and some site-specific initiatives which have already achieved progress in focusing collaborative action. We need a mechanism to enable these elements to interact to develop action plans, form partnerships and cooperative ventures needed to implement the strategy.

In the absence of an effective strategy, more Canadians will develop cancer, suffer throughout the course of their cancers, and die of cancer, than ever before, despite increased funding which will continue to be allocated to non-integrated approaches.

This future scenario is not inevitable, but to avoid it, we must act in the present. It will require the joint efforts of governments, professionals, survivors and NGOs to make it happen.