News Item

June 19, 2013

New Program Helping More Manitobans Access Cancer Services Sooner

A new CancerCare Manitoba program is helping more Manitobans get diagnosed and treated for cancer sooner, Health Minister Theresa Oswald announced today.

"The Manitoba government is committed to ensuring all Manitobans dealing with cancer get the help they need when they need it most," said Oswald. "The First Nations, Metis and Inuit Cancer Control Program increases access to diagnosis, treatment and support for all Manitobans facing barriers to cancer services, resulting in less stress and worry for patients and their families."

The new program is the latest phase of the Manitoba government's Cancer Patient Journey Initiative, launched in 2011, which aims to reduce the time from suspicion of cancer to first treatment to 60 days or less. Recognizing broad cultural factors and the role of traditional and holistic healing practices, a patient access co-ordinator works with patients, families and health-care providers to connect people to care and support services.

"Culturally responsive services represent the next natural step in the ongoing evolution of cancer services in Manitoba," said Dr. Dhali Dhaliwal, president and CEO, CancerCare Manitoba. "By helping more Manitobans navigate the health-care system through the First Nations, Metis and Inuit Cancer Control Program, we can ensure those who might otherwise face barriers to cancer services can access the care and treatment they need."

In addition to helping those who have been diagnosed with cancer access treatment and support, staff also travel to First Nations and Métis gatherings around the province to share information about prevention, early warning signs and symptoms, and help more First Nations, Métis and Inuit Manitobans get screened to catch cancer earlier when it is easier to treat.

The program will also reach out to new Canadians and other populations who face challenges in accessing cancer services due to factors such as language, geography or lack of knowledge about cancer screening, prevention and care options, said Oswald.

"This program gives community members a better understanding of what will happen during testing and cancer treatments, which eases some of the fear and powerlessness family members feel when a loved one is diagnosed with cancer," said Ann Lacquette, member of the CancerCare Manitoba Community Partnership Committee. "We're pleased CancerCare Manitoba is partnering with communities to provide this important program, which will increase access to safe, patient-focused cancer services for everyone."

The minister noted the First Nations, Metis and Inuit Cancer Control Program, developed with support from the CancerCare Manitoba Foundation and funded through the Manitoba government's $40 million Cancer Patient Journey Initiative, builds on existing investments in cancer screening, diagnosis and treatment over the last decade.

"The investments we have made over the last decade have improved services and built a strong foundation, and Manitoba now is building a cancer-care system that is among the best in the world," said Oswald. "Now, even more Manitobans have increased access to screening, fast referrals, testing, diagnosis and treatment. Patients and their families deserve no less."

Since 1999, the Manitoba government has invested in cancer screening, diagnosis and treatment to improve cancer services for Manitobans. These investments include:

Every year, more than 6,000 Manitobans are diagnosed with cancer, while up to 10 times that number are suspected of having cancer and undergo testing before it is ruled out. Like most other jurisdictions, Manitoba is projecting a 50 per cent increase in cancer cases over the next 20 years.

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