PEI

National cancer survey gets lots of input from Islanders

A national survey of more than 30,000 Canadian cancer patients looking at their experiences with cancer included input from about 2,500 P.E.I. residents.

More than 30,000 cancer patients were surveyed, including 2,500 people from P.E.I.

The survey found eight out of 10 cancer patients continue to have physical challenges after treatment. (Samrith Na Lumpoon/Shutterstock)

A national survey of more than 30,000 Canadian cancer patients looking at their experiences with cancer included input from about 2,500 P.E.I. residents.

The report by the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer Corporation found eight out of 10 patients continue to have physical challenges after treatment, and seven in 10 report having emotional challenges.

The survey sheds light on the state of cancer care across the country, said Rami Rahal, executive director of cancer control at the  Canadian Partnership Against Cancer Corporation.

"This is the first time we've been able to really take a good look at the experience of patients going through their cancer journey," he told Mitch Cormier, host of CBC's Island Morning.

"What it's like for someone to go through cancer and what are some of the challenges they face beyond the disease itself because those patients are going through a lot in that journey and we wanted to find out if we're actually able to take care of them effectively."

Patients face many challenges

While information provided to patients and treatment are mostly viewed as being done well, Rahal said the system doesn't do as good a job in taking care of patients as a whole, who often face anxiety, depression and have practical issues in going back to school or work.

"People need a lot of support beyond the treatment for their specific disease and a lot of times they're not getting the support that they need," Rahal said. "This cuts across the whole journey from the moment they realize something is wrong ... to the moment they hear they have cancer ... to their treatment being complete and they're dealing with side effects."

Confusion over testing

He noted there is often a lot of anxiety for patients and their families when they're faced with long wait times to get tested and get results back, as well as confusion about the testing process.

"A lot of times patients are having to go to multiple tests on multiple days when they could have all been organized and scheduled in the same day in one place," Rahal said.

He said the system should be structured to reflect patients' needs, not those of the health-care system.

With files from Island Morning

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