Expanding cancer care to the north and beyond

July 27, 2011

Found in General

My role as a radiation oncologist at the BC Cancer Agency Centre for the North will continue to include treating cancer patients mostly with radiation therapy and other treatments as needed.

It is important for us to be mindful of, and work hard to understand, any cultural differences when treating and following patients. Northern B.C. communities include a much larger aboriginal population than the rest of B.C. Important work by others in Northern B.C. and at the BC Cancer Agency have identified cultural differences to be aware of when providing cancer screening, treatments and follow-up care.

We have to adapt our approach to cancer care in order to improve the use of cancer services and improve patients’ quality of life. Therefore, getting to know the various communities is important. Part of this will involve raising awareness and educating local communities about the importance of research and the impact it has on enhancements to patient care and survivorship. At the same time, we will also focus on learning more about the issues that community members face when they try to access care.

Access to care will improve simply because of geography, as the new centre is much closer to home for northern B.C. residents in need of care. Once I am there full time, the other oncologists and I will be able to collaborate with the local family physicians and specialists regarding our patients’ treatments more effectively.

The options for virtual patient care will also expand with the use of TeleHeath — video conference software for doctor-patient appointments by phone or over the internet. It is ideal for situations where a patient has difficulty travelling or is isolated by harsh winter conditions in remote areas of B.C.

When the Centre for the North opens, I anticipate seeing increased radiation therapy usage by residents of northern B.C. and continued improvements in the quality of life of patients receiving treatment there. From a research perspective, I really enjoy the community involvement and hope to see a growing interest in supporting research.

Having both the Agency and Foundation more visible up North is one more step in the right direction for enhancing patient care across B.C. and achieving a world free of cancer.

Thank you for following along,