Real impacts on real people
What do these disruptions and delays mean for cancer patients across Canada? A survey by All.Can Canada on early cancer diagnosis during COVID-19 found that patients are concerned about many aspects of their care experience, including:1
- Fear of travelling to attend a distant cancer clinic for diagnostic testing
- Lack of online support for older adults who are unable to see their doctors in person
- Increased mistakes or missed paperwork due to an overwhelmed system
- Lack of guidance from diagnostic facilities and cancer centres about continuation of service
- Lengthy wait times for specialist appointments (up to four months in some jurisdictions)
Some patients worried about having to advocate for themselves, as public health measures prevented them from bringing family members or other companions/escorts to appointments for support. (This is a significant issue in rural and remote communities, especially in the territories where patients often have to travel to other jurisdictions for appointments and had to make those trips alone during the pandemic.) A 2021 survey by the Canadian Cancer Society found that not being able bring a caregiver to appointments is considered the biggest disruption to care by 45% of cancer patients.2
My caregiver is my spouse. He was allowed to accompany me to only one appointment. This does not allow him to understand the situation.
- All.Can. Optimizing diagnosis in Canadian cancer care. 2022. Available from: https://www.all-can.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/Optimizing-Diagnosis-in-Canadian-Cancer-Care_All.Can-Canada-Report-compressed.pdf
- Canadian Cancer Society patient engagement survey. January 2022. Data available upon request.