Giving Voice to Canadians Concerned About Breast Cancer

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Discussing the gaps in cancer drug coverage at key Canadian Conference

I had the privilege to attend the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer’s (CPAC) Conference on Optimal Approaches to Cancer Care in Canada. This was the first time that CPAC hosted this conference.  Its purpose was to explore 4 key themes to cancer control: initiatives in quality care, economics of high-quality care, improving the quality of cancer diagnosis, and overcoming inertia in the cancer system (why don’t we do what we know works?).  The conference was geared towards administrators within cancer programs and physicians who work within cancer control.  As one of only a handful of patient organizations to attend we were pleased to ensure that the patient voice was represented at this conference as well.

CBCN was selected to share a poster on our Waiting for Treatment report as a part of this conference.  This gave us the opportunity to discuss the gaps in coverage by public health insurance to cover basic life extending treatments for metastatic breast cancer.  Our report has shown that patients can wait over 2 years for a treatment to be covered by their provincial government from the time that it is approved by Health Canada.  Furthermore, not all provinces approve treatments at the same time, which means that some patients in certain provinces will have access to treatments that others do not have.

Our poster presentation was part of the Economics of High-Quality Care theme from the conference.  This theme explored the cost of care and the economic drivers that have led to increases to health care cost.  Part of the discussion centred on how do we determine value for money and translate clinical trials results into real world data that can inform effectiveness.  It also explored how cancer control programs can maintain system quality and innovative while maintaining sustainability. 

Attending the conference was a great opportunity to learn more about the cancer control system and the ideas about how it can be improved.  It was also a great chance to present our own research and continue to ensure that the voice of patients is represented and considered at these meetings.