October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month in Canada, and throughout the month the CAR promoted its recommendations for patient breast health and demographic information on the impact of breast cancer on Canadians. With Canada’s healthcare system continually managing the ongoing impacts of the pandemic, this year’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month places a heightened relevance on the CAR’s recommendations to the Federal Government in the 2023 Pre-Budget Submission.
The CAR kicked of its breast screening awareness campaign by promoting one of its central patient recommendations on social media and in a release sent to Canadian news media – women 40 years and older should schedule an annual breast screening examination to help with early detection and disease prevention. The difficulty, however, is that the pandemic created a backlog in all types of medical imaging, including mammography. This can have a ripple effect, where patients see their examinations and follow-up appointments delayed to the point of potentially devastating disease onset.
Ewa Hodges from Toronto, Ontario knows firsthand the importance of medical imaging for cancer care. In 2020, Ewa was diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer. She underwent surgery and treatment, and in the year that followed, she needed follow-up imaging to monitor her condition. When the pandemic caused many facilities to cancel or delay scheduled services, Ewa’s follow-up imaging was cancelled because it was deemed not urgent. Despite having a very aggressive form of cancer, she was not able to access the tests she needed. – CAR media release
The top priority of the CAR’s 2023 Pre-Budget Submission is to financially bolster the provinces to update medical imaging equipment and facilitate the health human resources required to operate the equipment. Specifically, the CAR is calling for a $1 billion investment from the Federal Government over the next three years to address this. Timely screening is the most effective step towards limiting the instances or advancement of breast cancer, but it is rendered ineffective if patients are unable to book appointments. While the investment and other recommendations by the CAR will help address the strain of backlogged medical imaging on Canada’s healthcare system, the impact on breast cancer patients will be felt directly.
On November 15, the CAR will take its 2023 Pre-Budget Submission recommendations to the Federal Health Minister’s office and other Members of Parliament during our Annual Day on the Hill.