CancerCare Manitoba
News Item

April 1, 2014

Province announces new support...

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New Drugs, Additional Support for Front-line Staff Will Improve Experience for Cancer Patients: Minister Selby


The province is investing in new cancer drugs and additional supports for front-line staff to improve cancer treatment and care for patients in Manitoba, Health Minister Erin Selby announced today, marking Oncology Nursing Day.

"Front-line health-care providers often go above and beyond to make a difference every day for their patients," said Minister Selby. "To mark Oncology Nursing Day, we are announcing coverage for new cancer drugs and supports to help nurses and patients as they move through the cancer patient journey to recovery."

Six new cancer drugs will be added to the Manitoba drug formulary and will be included in the Manitoba Home Cancer Drug Program. The new drugs include:
  • Inlyta and Votrient for the treatment of renal cancer;
  • Iressa for the treatment of lung cancer;
  • Sutent for the treatment of pancreatic tumours;
  • Jakavi for the treatment of myelofibrosis, a bone marrow disorder; and
  • Xtandi and Zytiga for the treatment of prostate cancer.

Coverage of the new drugs, estimated at $5.7 million annually, will begin on April 16 and is being provided at no extra cost to the health-care system. The costs are being offset by savings generated through lower prices negotiated for the coverage of generic drugs.

Minister Selby made the announcement as she joined oncology nursing staff from CancerCare Manitoba, the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority and from across the province to recognize the support, compassion and expert care oncology nurses provide in Manitoba. Approximately 350 oncology nurses work across the entire spectrum of cancer services across the province including in clinics, referral triage, chemotherapy treatment, research, clinical trials and palliative care.

"The cancer journey is complex, frightening and life-changing, particularly when it happens very rapidly as mine did, and then was complicated by an allergic drug reaction," said Les Stoodley, a current patient at CancerCare Manitoba, who was diagnosed with leukemia in November 2013. "Through it all, my team of oncology nurses were compassionate, knowledgeable and took an intense interest in me and my well-being, for which I am grateful."

Stoodley's leukemia is now in remission.

The scope of nursing in oncology has expanded in Manitoba to ensure safe and quality care, given the increased complexities in treatments that patients need, the minister said. CancerCare Manitoba provides opportunities for registered nurses, nurse educators, nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, quality and risk-improvement specialists and health-care aides. Nurses have obtained specialized oncology certification with bachelor, graduate and doctorate-level university education.

"I am privileged to work with patients like Les Stoodley and their families," said Jacqueline Chahine an oncology nurse who specializes in clinical trials at CancerCare Manitoba. "I admire each and every Manitoban who faces cancer for their bravery at a difficult time and I appreciate the opportunity of being able to practise leading-edge clinical therapy that makes a difference in people's lives."

The minister said the province is also investing supports for health-care providers to implement IN SIXTY. This system-wide initiative aims to improve the cancer patient journey experience, moving patients from suspicion of cancer to treatment in 60 days or less, while ensuring quality compassionate care for patients and family.

"As part of the IN SIXTY initiative, health-care providers from numerous organizations are taking action as one united team for patients," said Dr. Sri Navaratnam, president and chief executive officer of CancerCare Manitoba. "The province and these providers believe patients should and can have quick, high-quality care with more collaboration across the health-care system and we continue to support their efforts on behalf of cancer patients across the province."

Two patient trackers have been hired, one at Diagnostic Services of Manitoba (DSM) and the second at the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (WRHA) to monitor patients as they move from seeing their family physician to diagnostics, surgery and cancer care, depending on the patients' care needs.

"The successful treatment and control of cancer requires a co-operative approach and involves many different facets of the health system," said Arlene Wilgosh, president and chief executive officer of the WRHA and co-chair of IN SIXTY. "We recognize the challenges and uncertainties associated with cancer treatment and are working to ensure treatment is timely and the process is understandable for patients and their families."

Currently, the trackers are working to develop systems that will allow them to spot issues or delays and work proactively to address the situation and ensure quick, quality care.

"Laboratory and diagnostic imaging testing are a key and complex part of a patient's cancer journey - the next steps in the journey depend on these results," said Jim Slater, chief executive officer, Diagnostic Services Manitoba. "Our diagnostic trackers will work closely with the rest of the cancer journey team and open the door to further improvements in the diagnostic stage of the patient's journey and for the entire journey itself."

The minister also noted that new cancer hubs have been launched across the province to improve access to enhanced treatment

For more information on the IN SIXTY initiative, visit


At CancerCare Manitoba, nurses, physicians and other multidisciplinary team members are making great efforts to improve the cancer patient journey. Front-line providers and booking staff from across the province are taking part in LEAN improvement training events to streamline their work and improve access to care.


As a result of LEAN focus on breast cancer, improvements have been made at the Breast Health Centre, which has dropped its referral to first treatment timelines to within 60 days.

Other LEAN projects have also been initiated, targeting reduced wait times for chemotherapy and radiation treatments, timelier referral to oncologists, increased efficiencies in the preparation of drugs and many other quality/efficiency process improvements.

Work has been done to increase awareness of the Uniting Primary Care and Oncology (UPCON) Program helpline for health-care professionals, as well as improve access to information with the introduction of text- and web-based forms. Promotion of these improvements resulted in 73 per cent increase in helpline inquiries from health-care providers.

According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, Manitoba currently has the shortest wait time in Canada for radiation therapy at one week or less.

Over the past year, Manitoba has taken a number of steps to improve cancer services across the province including:
  • hiring new front-line staff including eight more pathologists and new cancer testing co-ordinators and technologists;
  • launching a First Nations, Métis and Inuit Cancer Control program to directly engage communities in cancer prevention, treatment and awareness;
  • opening a new Urgent Cancer Care Clinic in Winnipeg to help cancer patients get the urgent care they need without needing to go directly to the emergency room;
  • covering 100 per cent of costs for cancer treatment and support drugs with no deductibles for patients at home and in hospital;
  • introducing new testing procedures to help identify patients at a greater risk for inherited colon and other types of cancers are now in place including testing for Lynch syndrome, a disorder that significantly increases the risk of developing cancer; and
  • introducing leading-edge robotic technology now being used to prepare chemotherapy drugs quickly and safely at CancerCare Manitoba to improve patient safety.

Click here to view official news release.

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