Access to Care

Access to Care

Who doesn’t get treatment?  Who should?

Radiotherapy (RT) utilization – the proportion of cancer patients who receive RT – can be
considered a key measure of access.  RTU has been calculated regionally in several provinces
including British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario. Studies in these provinces have shown that RT
utilization rates fall short of desired benchmarks, currently around 34% suggesting that some cancer patients who live in these provinces, and who would benefit from RT, are not receiving it.

CPQR is working with stakeholders to help understand whether these shortfalls exist in other Canadian provinces, and to what extent.  This work is the first step in understanding inequities in access to radiation treatment across Canada, barriers to access and equitable access for all Canadians and improved cancer outcomes.

What is currently being done

As an initial step to understanding how to address barriers to access, CPQR conducted a pan-Canadian study to calculate and describe radiotherapy utilization rates by province.

Under the guidance of Jessica Chan, CPQR’s residency fellow, CPQR gathered data on total number of new RT patients treated over a 1-year time period, classified by disease site (lung, breast, prostate, colorectal) and intent (curative, palliative). Data collection involved examining each province’s central repository of RT data to obtain the total number of RT patients treated within a province or engaging RT leads at each RT centre within a province to acquire the number of RT patients treated per centre.

Data on the number of new cancer cases were obtained through each province’s cancer registry, with coordination through the provincial RT lead. By dividing the number of RT patients by the province’s number of new cancer cases, CPQR calculated the RT utilization ratio for each province, and compared these ratios with previously established Canadian benchmarks.

We’ve created a helpful info graphic that describes the results of this work here.

What will be done next

CPQR will use a linked incidence-treatment method of measuring utilization.
This work will make it easier to understand variation in radiation treatment use within regions.

Provinces that have the available information will be collected, analyzed and compared with
previously collected ratio data to verify areas and populations with limited care access.