Home » Managing Illnesses » Cancer Care 2023 » Inefficiencies in Cancer Care: 6 Ways to Improve Cancer Diagnosis

Cancer is the leading cause of death in Canada. Due to missed diagnoses during the pandemic, we are now facing an echo pandemic in cancer. Before the pandemic, it was already estimated that 2 in 5 Canadians (40%) would get cancer in their lifetime and 1 in 4 (25%) would die from their disease. 

With COVID-19, things have just become worse. Alberta, British Columbia, and Quebec reported a 20-23% drop in cancer diagnoses from June to September 2020. It is predicted that cancer care disruptions during the pandemic could lead to 21,247 more cancer deaths in Canada over the next decade due to pandemic-related diagnostic and treatment delays.


All.Can Canada has just launched a new report titled ‘Optimizing Diagnosis in Canadian Cancer Care, which reveals findings from a comprehensive research project including a literature review, interviews with patients and caregivers, and a survey of healthcare providers across Canada.

all.can patient cancer types

“People are cycling around in the health system trying to get their symptoms investigated for months, sometimes years, before a diagnosis is made,” says Kathy Barnard, who is a stage IV melanoma survivor, Founder of Save Your Skin Foundation, and a member of All.Can Canada’s steering committee. “This was already happening before COVID-19 and now things are even worse. Any delay in diagnosis can have serious impact on a patient’s chance of a positive outcome.”

all.can patient experience journey

All.Can Canada’s report reveals the labyrinth most people experience when trying to diagnose a suspicion of cancer. Seven outcomes were identified as critical to a quality diagnosis experience:

1) Swiftness of the diagnosis process
2) Validation of concerns by primary care providers
3) Excellent patient-provider communication
4) Effective provider-provider communication
5) Better information
6) Integrated psychosocial support
7) Coordinated and managed care

All.Can Canada has made 6 recommendations to improve cancer diagnosis, which they are now working to put into action.

National convening and coordination of the efforts of various stakeholders in implementing these recommendations are required, with patients and patient representatives providing meaningful leadership in any ongoing multi-stakeholder implementation efforts.

Create opportunities to enhance primary care provider knowledge of cancer types, associated symptoms, and established diagnosis pathways.

Ensure consistently available and accessible patient navigation for all cancer types and all jurisdictions throughout the cancer diagnosis process.

Provide patients the right information at the right time and establish technological mechanisms to facilitate communication throughout the cancer diagnosis process.

Expand availability and accessibility of psychosocial supports for people going through cancer diagnosis and create linkages between cancer care and supportive care.

Develop a patient-centred quality framework to measure, benchmark and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of cancer diagnosis.

All.Can Canada is a patient-led, multi-stakeholder initiative committed to ensuring swift, accurate, and appropriately delivered diagnosis of cancer in Canada.

Learn more about All.Can Canada: Read the full report or download the summary here. Visit All.Can Canada online.

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