Skip to main content
Home » Managing Illnesses » Cancer Care 2023 » Creating a Better Cancer Care System Starts with Listening to Patients
Cancer Care

Creating a Better Cancer Care System Starts with Listening to Patients

cancer patient and doctor smiling
cancer patient and doctor smiling

Andrea Seale

CEO, Canadian Cancer Society

Canada’s cancer care system is already strained, yet faces escalating demand. Together, we must advocate for meaningful change to the system.

A recent Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) survey of patients and caregivers revealed that three years into the pandemic, access to cancer care in Canada remains inconsistent and vital needs aren’t always being met. Among the concerns expressed were the impact of cancelled or postponed appointments, low confidence in receiving timely care for cancer-related emergencies, and the financial burden of cancer. 

Addressing an escalating need

Addressing these challenges to our strained cancer care system has never been more important. In late 2022, in collaboration with Statistics Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada, the CCS released a special report on cancer prevalence, which found that over 1.5 million people in Canada are living with or beyond cancer — a number that has risen steadily over the last decade and that’ll continue to rise as our population ages and grows. 

The escalating need for cancer care doesn’t end there. Based on data from the Canadian Cancer Registry, we know that disruptions to cancer care during the pandemic have led to delayed cancer diagnoses and fewer cases diagnosed. In 2020, there were 6.1 per cent fewer new cancer cases compared to the annual average for 2015 to 2019, indicating a significant number of undetected cancer cases that will require treatment and care in the months and years ahead. 

Sparking transformative change

Change is urgently needed. And as decision-makers shape the cancer care system of the future, they have a responsibility to ensure not only that the system will have capacity to meet increasing demands, but also that it will meet the unique and specific needs of people with cancer. 

How can those of us outside the cancer care system help spark this kind of transformative change? We can speak up. Person-centred cancer care is only possible when the perspectives and experiences of people affected by cancer are at the forefront of every decision. People whose lives have been touched by cancer can share their stories with decision-makers through platforms like the CCS’s Get Better card-writing tool and organizations can amplify their voices and lead strong calls for action.

Together, we can help Canada’s cancer care system work for everyone who needs it. 

To learn more, visit

Next article