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Canada’s New Government Invests $10.1 Million for Better Access to Cancer Care from Prevention to Palliation

For immediate release –

WINNIPEG (August 24, 2007) The Honourable Vic Toews, President of the Treasury Board, on behalf of the Honourable Tony Clement, Minister of Health today announced $10.1 million for access to high quality cancer care research. Canada’s New Government through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) in partnership with CancerCare Manitoba and Cancer Care Nova Scotia will provide the funding over the next five years to seven research teams.

“Canada’s New Government is committed to further building knowledge on how to better detect, treat and survive cancer,” said Minister Toews. “In this regard, the projects being funded today will build on the work of the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer, announced by Prime Minister Harper November 2006 and designed to have the very best out of our knowledge today to plan for and improve prevention, diagnosis and treatment tomorrow.””Evidence, based on solid scientific research, is key to informed health decision making. The 7 teams being funded today will provide exactly the kinds of evidence that cancer patients, policy makers and family doctors need to improve the quality of cancer care across Canada” stated Dr. Alan Bernstein, President of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).

“We are committed to working with provinces and healthcare experts to improve timely access to high quality health care, a top priority for CIHR and for all Canadians,” said Dr. Branton, Scientific Director of the CIHR Institute of Cancer Research. “These teams will advance knowledge in many areas that are of strategic importance to our health care system, and will ultimately allow for better access to cancer care for patients and their families.”

The selected CIHR teams underwent a rigorous peer-review process before being approved and exemplify CIHR’s comprehensive, problem-based approach to funding excellence in health research. Funds will be distributed over the next five years to the seven teams. The funded research projects include:

Richard Doll (B.C. Cancer Agency) CIHR Team in Supportive Cancer Care. The team will research how cancer patients can receive greater and more equitable access to supportive care services that address the needs of the patients including physical, social, emotional and spiritual needs of the patient.

Brenda Elias (University of Manitoba) CIHR/CancerCare Manitoba (CCMB) Team in First Nations Cancer Research. The team will inform the development of a national surveillance system to gather cancer data for defined groups such as First Nations people to inform the future development of a First Nation specific cancer control strategy.

Eva Grunfeld (Dalhousie University / Cancer Care Nova Scotia)) CIHR/CCNS Team in Access to Colorectal Cancer Services in Nova Scotia. The team will develop tools to measure and improve access to quality cancer treatment and care along the cancer continuum, including diagnosis, surgery, treatment, follow-up and palliative care.

Alan Katz (University of Manitoba) CIHR/CCMB Team in Primary Care Oncology Research. The team will identify factors that will support primary care physicians in improving the quality of care in patients with colorectal cancer, the leading cause of cancer death in Canada.

William MacKillop (Queen’s University) CIHR Team in Access to Quality Radiotherapy. The team aims to improve cancer outcomes in Canada by developing, disseminating and evaluating quality standards for radiotherapy programs. The application of these guidelines may improve cancer outcomes.

Devidas Menon (University of Alberta) CIHR Team in Cancer Technology Decision Making. The team will develop new tools to make the decision making process associated with investments to new technologies for cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment more accountable, equitable, efficient and effective.

Scott Tyldesley (B.C. Cancer Agency) CIHR Team in Operations Research for Improved Cancer Care. The team, a collaboration between the BC Cancer Agency and the Sauder School of Business at UBC, will use operations research methods to improve access to radiation therapy and other aspects of cancer care.

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) is the Government of Canada’s agency for health research. CIHR’s mission is to create new scientific knowledge and to catalyze its translation into improved health, more effective health services and products, and a strengthened Canadian health-care system. Composed of 13 Institutes, CIHR provides leadership and support to more than 11,000 health researchers and trainees across Canada. {}]

CancerCare Manitoba is charged by an act of the legislature of Manitoba with responsibility for cancer prevention, detection, care, research and education for the people of Manitoba. As a centre of choice, CancerCare Manitoba is dedicated to excellence in cancer care, to enhancing quality of life for those living with cancer and blood disorders, and to improving control of cancer for all Manitobans.

Cancer Care Nova Scotia is a program of the Nova Scotia Department of Health, created to reduce the burden of cancer on individuals, families, and the health care system through prevention, screening, education and research.

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Highlighted Projects Backgrounder

Media Relations:

David Coulombe
CIHR Media Specialist
Office: 613-941-4563
Mobile: 613-808-7526
Email: [email protected]


Richard Doll (BC Cancer Agency) CIHR Team in Supportive Cancer Care
The research program aims to create a pan-Canadian team to study strategies to improve access to supportive cancer care. The program will focus on improving access through patient navigation strategies, use of technology to deliver supportive care such as on-line technologies, and attention to groups with observed poorer outcomes.

This work will enhance health care decision-making by providing cost analyses related to the new proposed strategies. The team will develop new methods to assist improved access to supportive care, including screening tools and robust measures of short- and long-term patient outcomes.

Supportive care helps patients and their families cope with cancer from pre-diagnosis, through the process of diagnosis and treatment, to cure, chronic disease management, or end-of-life care and into bereavement.

The research team comprises researchers, decision makers, program managers, clinicians and survivors from British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia.

Brenda Elias (University of Manitoba) CIHR/CancerCare Manitoba (CCMB) Team in First Nations Cancer Research
While Canada has a well-established system of provincial cancer registries, there is no existing process for disseminating cancer-related information that meets the specific needs of First Nations communities. Led by University of Manitoba researcher Brenda Elias, community health sciences, and CancerCare Manitoba epidemiologist Donna Turner, community health sciences, the Knowledge Translation Net Team (KT-NET) team comprised of epidemiologists, medical-oncologists and physicians from leading academic and clinical institutions, will develop a knowledge translation surveillance and monitoring research process designed to improve access to cancer care information, from prevention to palliation, for First Nations people in Manitoba.

KT-NET will bring together researchers, health care providers, policy-makers, First Nations communities, and front-line health workers. The team will focus on improving access to information about patterns of cancer incidence, prevalence and mortality; social determinants of behavioural risk; and patterns of screening and treatment utilization. KT-NET will also provide a better understanding of wait times and patient outcomes as these relate to First Nations populations.

Eva Grunfeld (Dalhousie University / Cancer Care Nova Scotia)) CIHR/CCNS Team in Access to Colorectal Cancer Services in Nova Scotia
The team will study access to and quality of colorectal cancer services along the cancer care continuum, which includes: diagnosis, surgery, treatment, follow-up care and palliative care. Using information from the Nova Scotia Cancer Registry and other Nova Scotia databases, they will develop methods and tools to measure access to and quality of treatment and care experienced by Nova Scotians diagnosed with colorectal cancer between 2000 and 2005, with the aim of improving the entire system.

In addition, they will study two potentially vulnerable populations where access to quality cancer services may be low: adults with mental illness and children and youth.

Once measurement tools for access to quality colorectal cancer have been developed, the team will explore the potential for using them to measure access to quality services for those with other types of cancer.

Study findings will provide researchers, doctors, other health professionals and decision and policy makers with better information to guide decisions which support improved access to quality cancer services in Nova Scotia.

Alan Katz (University of Manitoba) CIHR/CCMB Team in Primary Care Oncology Research
The Primary Care Oncology Research Network (PCO-NET) is a unique, interdisciplinary research program designed to understand the role of primary care practioners in improving outcomes and quality of care for patients with colorectal cancer (CRC), the leading cause of cancer death in Canada. Led by University of Manitoba researcher Alan Katz, family medicine/community health sciences, PCO-NET is a collaborative team that includes family physicians, nurses, cancer specialists, epidemiologists, cancer survivors and others. PCO-NET will also incorporate information from several valuable sources of research information about cancer service delivery including the Manitoba Cancer Registry located at CancerCare Manitoba and the Research Repository at the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy.
The network will focus on specific aspects of CRC relevant to primary care, including: the role of family members in decision making for CRC screening, community-based nursing support for family physicians in promoting screening, and transfer of follow-up care from cancer specialists to family physicians after acute treatment.
The PCO-NET research team comprises researchers, nurses, epidemiologists and physicians from the University of Manitoba and CancerCare Manitoba.

William MacKillop (Queen’s University) CIHR Team in Access to Quality Radiotherapy.

Head of the Division of Cancer Care and Epidemiology at Queen’s University’s Cancer Research Institute, Dr. William Mackillop is a radiation oncologist with expertise in health service research. His research program aims to improve cancer outcomes by providing the information necessary to maximize the benefits of existing
technologies within the limits of available resources: 1) by improving access to care; 2) by improving the quality of care at the population level; and, 3) by improving clinical decision making at the level of the individual patient.

Devidas Menon (University of Alberta) CIHR Team in Cancer Technology Decision Making.
This team is comprised of researchers in the fields of health economics, health technology assessment, qualitative methodologies, cancer epidemiology, knowledge translation as well as policy and clinical decision makers from provincial cancer agencies. In the proposed research program, the team will first establish a database of decision-making and processes regarding new, expensive cancer technologies that have been described in the public domain. Then, specific tools and processes will be adopted, adapted or developed, to be tested in real-world situations by provincial cancer agencies. A goal of the project is to create a Canadian network of academic researchers and health care decision-makers, which will improve the transfer of research knowledge into actual decision-making.

Scott Tyldesley (B.C. Cancer Agency) CIHR Team in Operations Research for Improved Cancer Care
The project brings together a team of researchers and managers from leading academic and clinical institutions to address a key concern of Canadians – providing timely access to quality cancer care. The goal of the project is to develop, test, and implement modern management practices, especially from the field of Operations Research, to increase the efficiency of the cancer system and to improve patient outcomes. The initial focus is on improving the performance of the provincial Radiation Therapy program, with the information being shared with other cancer jurisdictions.