Albertans wait longer than national average for cancer surgery: report

CALGARY – New numbers from the Canadian Institute  for Health Information (CIHI) and Alberta Health Services has found Albertans are waiting longer than the national average for five types of cancer surgery.

According to this year’s CIHI report on surgery wait times, the 2014 median wait time for bladder, breast, colorectal, lung and prostate cancer was between 19 and 35 days across the country. In every category,  Alberta median wait times were longer, with the largest disparity occurring for lung cancer patients.

Cancer surgery wait times

The senior medical director  for CancerControl Alberta says this year’s wait times actually represent a small improvement over previous years, but Dr. Paul Grundy admits more work needs to be done.

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“The improvement is not large enough yet for what we’re looking for,” he said in a Tuesday interview on the phone from Toronto.

“Last year it was clear that our results were really not acceptable, so Alberta Health Services specifically put forward an additional $22 million to increase the number of cancer surgeries in both Edmonton and Calgary.”

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Dr. Grundy says the funding is expected to add 2,400 cancer surgeries to the system each year–split between Calgary and Edmonton. The funding was put in place last September, so the full impact of the change won’t be illustrated until 2015 wait time numbers are available. Grundy admits he’s not sure it will be enough to bring Alberta wait times in line with the national numbers.

“We believe they will be better, but it’s difficult to predict how much better. We’re monitoring the situation to see if additional improvements are needed.”

READ MORE: Hospital overcrowding leading to patient suffering in Alberta, say doctors