Saskatchewan cancer patients will have improved access to cancer care and services, thanks to a funding increase this year to the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency.
The provincial government committed $138.8 million for the agency in the 2012-13 Budget, an increase of $16.9 million (nearly 14 per cent) over 2011-12. It will be used to enhance access to cancer screening, cancer drugs and oncologists.
“We’re committed to giving Saskatchewan people the best cancer care available anywhere,” Health Minister Don McMorris said. “The Saskatchewan Cancer Agency is doing an exceptional job providing services to patients, and its focus on improving access to cancer care is clearly paying off.”
Saskatchewan Cancer Agency data shows that patients are getting more timely appointments with oncologists at the cancer centres.
Between April 2010 and February 2012, the number of people waiting to see a medical oncologist in Saskatchewan dropped almost 50 per cent. The number waiting for a first appointment at a cancer centre dropped 64.5 per cent during the same period. Almost no cancer patient currently waits longer than eight weeks for a first appointment.
“Although we have improved access, we know there is more work to do with our partners in health care,” Cancer Agency Board Chair Dr. Stewart McMillan said. “Ensuring clients, patients and their families have access to the care and services they need is our top priority.”
The funding increase will support approximately 30,000 cancer drug treatment visits, 39,000 mammograms, and about 6,000 new patient appointments at the cancer centres in Saskatoon and Regina in 2012-13.
It will also enable expansion of the Screening Program for Colorectal Cancer to all health regions in the province.
“The Canadian Cancer Society is pleased with the attention that has been given to cancer care and is particularly encouraged that the government is supportive of policies that will prevent cancer and of early detection programs that will save lives,” Canadian Cancer Society’s Saskatchewan Division Executive Director Keith Karasin said.
Information on cancer services is available at www.saskcancer.ca.