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Cancer doesn’t wait: the future Health Quebec Agency must act!

April 26, 2024

The Quebec Cancer Foundation, the Cancer Research Society, Leucan, and PROCURE (hereinafter referred to as “the groups”) are urging the Quebec government to take action in the fight against cancer by unveiling their brief entitled “Cancer doesn’t wait: the future Health Quebec Agency must act!” (in French only) and at the same time, develop a concrete action plan in oncology.

In 2023, in Quebec, it was estimated that 67,548 Quebecers received a cancer diagnosis, which represents 185 new cases per day. This number has been increasing for several years and is expected to continue rising in the coming years, mainly due to population aging and growth. It was also estimated that in 2023, 22,500 people passed away from cancer in the province, representing 62 deaths per day.

Faced with this tragic reality, the groups are reiterating their heartfelt plea made to the Quebec government last October, demanding a comprehensive cancer control action plan with measurable objectives and dedicated funding. As this plan is still pending, the groups take the lead and propose the following eight recommendations to the government:

Recommendation 1: Appoint a Vice President responsible for cancer within the Quebec Health Agency;

Recommendation 2: Identify a quantified goal for reducing cancer-related mortality rates in Quebec by 2035;

Recommendation 3: Allocate a dedicated budget for both fundamental and clinical cancer research;

Recommendation 4: Allocate more doctoral and postdoctoral scholarships in oncology, in collaboration with organizations dedicated to the fight against cancer;

Recommendation 5: Promote the availability of self-testing for early detection of various types of cancer, as soon as they are approved, along with access to more advanced therapeutic treatments;

Recommendation 6: Collaborate with organizations to raise awareness among the population and marginalized communities about the fight against cancer;

Recommendation 7: Include measures for rare cancers in the Quebec cancer action plan;

Recommendation 8: Standardize information systems and centralize cancer patient data to reduce waiting times for results and ensure better follow-up and support throughout the patient’s care journey.

“While the government is making everything it can to review the ways of doing things, it is essential to put the right resources in the right place,” declares Marco Décelles, Executive Director of the Quebec Cancer Foundation. “Today we are reaching out to Minister Christian Dubé to work together to make a difference in the lives of Quebecers with cancer and their loved ones. Our recommendations are the result of the work we do every day on the ground, and we hope they will be considered in the establishment of the future Health Quebec Agency and government action plan.”

“Cancer research is the only way to develop new approaches to prevent, diagnose, and treat this disease. It enables the discovery of more effective and less invasive treatments, improves the quality of life for patients, and increases survival rates,” attests Manon Pepin, President and CEO of the Cancer Research Society. “Investing more in cancer research and providing scholarships and grants for promising young researchers is crucial to staying at the forefront of scientific advancements and remaining competitive on the international stage.”

Access to information, from awaiting diagnosis to treatment, is of paramount importance for cancer patients and their loved ones. To ensure the best possible continuity of care, data must follow the patient to enable professionals to provide necessary care at the right time,” says Laurent Proulx, CEO of PROCURE.

“Innovation and research save lives every day. Investing in the fight against rare cancers, through clinical research among other ways, is imperative to improve survival rates and give more hope to affected children and families. Moreover, these efforts will make it possible to offer more targeted treatments and thus reduce post-cancer sequelae, giving survivors the chance to live life to the fullest,” states Juli Meilleur, Executive Director of Leucan.

By adopting the recommendations contained in the brief, Quebec will be able to advance the fight against cancer and improve the quality of life for patients. It is crucial that the government work closely with all stakeholders in the healthcare and research communities, and patient organizations, to ensure that public health policies promote a more humane, effective and personalized approach in the field of cancer.