Northern Health and PHSA/BC Cancer Agency to develop Northern Cancer Care Strategy

Northern Health and the British Columbia Cancer Agency, an agency of the Provincial Health Services Authority, are embarking on the development of a joint cancer care strategy designed to enhance the existing provincial cancer control program for Northern patients.

At their Board meeting in Kitimat today, NH directors gave their support to the development of the joint strategy to strengthen capacity to reduce, detect, and treat cancer in Northern British Columbia to help address an expected increase in cancer cases in the North.

¡§Our intention is to develop a strategy to strengthen all aspects of cancer care including prevention, early detection, treatment, and palliative care,¡¨ said Harry Gairns, Chair of Northern Health¡¦s Board.

¡§As our population ages, we want to develop a plan to provide more cancer care in the North when it¡¦s medically appropriate to do so. Many participants in our recent public consultation process also told us that traveling to southern centres for certain treatments ¡Vincluding highly specialized cancer treatments — is a cause for concern.¡¨

¡¨As an agency of the Provincial Health Services Authority, our mandate is to provide a cancer control program for people throughout British Columbia,¡¨ added Dr. Simon Sutcliffe, President of the BC Cancer Agency. ¡§Partnering with health authorities across the province, including the North, allows us to provide cancer care as close to patients¡¦ homes as possible.¡¨

Currently, the BC Cancer Agency partners with NH to provide cancer services in communities across the region, including:

?XFive Community Cancer Services located in Fort St. John, Dawson Creek, Smithers, Terrace and Prince Rupert — each has oncology-certified nurses providing service to cancer patients, such as chemotherapy administration, navigation, education and support.

?XTravelling consultation services by agency oncologists.

?XThe agency¡¦s screening mammography program, which delivers screening services in 20 northern communities through fixed centres and mobile units.

?XA Community Cancer Centre in Prince George, providing a range of therapy for cancer patients.

A team of medical and clinical staff from Northern Health hospitals will work with the BC Cancer Agency to identify priorities and resource requirements. Work on the strategy will begin in October