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Province strengthens cancer care and expands access

A year into the 10-Year Cancer Care Action Plan to build capacity and expand access to cancer-care services to meet growing demand, more people in B.C. are benefiting from expanded screening, more access to diagnostic tests and better treatment.
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​Pictured: Sarah Johnston, patient and regional patient experience committee member, BC Cancer - Kelowna, Adrian Dix, Minister of Health, Sarah Roth, president and chief executive officer, BC Cancer Foundation, and Dr. Kim Chi, executive vice president and chief medical officer, BC Cancer.

“The progress we have made in enhancing cancer care in just one year is a testament to our commitment to people in B.C. to deliver the best cancer care when and where we need it, and the hard work of our health-care professionals,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “When we launched the 10-Year Cancer Action Plan, we promised to strengthen efforts to prevent, detect and treat cancers, that’s exactly what we’ve done.”

B.C. has been experiencing rapidly increasing demand for cancer-care services resulting from a growing and aging population as there more than 5.8 million people living in the province in 2023-24, an increase of almost 10% since 2020-21. Also, there are increasing rates of cancer among young people and, positively, a greater number of people with cancer living longer who require ongoing care.

To meet this growing need for cancer services, the Province has taken action and realized significant progress in 2023-24, one year since the plan’s launch:

Hiring more cancer-care professionals:

  • 92 cancer-care physicians have been hired, including 71 oncologists;
  • 32 additional radiation therapists; and
  • eight Indigenous patient navigators have been hired across all BC Cancer regional centres to directly support Indigenous patients.
Preventing and detecting cancer earlier:

  • 29,724 cervix self-screening kits have been distributed since B.C.’s program expanded provincewide with a first-in-Canada option to screen at home;
  • 27,326 more mammogram, colon and lung screenings were completed this year; and
  • 1,566 more positron emission tomography/computed tomography (PET/CT) scans were performed, a 9.9% increase.
Treating more people:

  • 19,161 medical oncology consultations took place last year, a 6.6% increase;
  • 20,005 radiation oncology consultations occurred, a 5.7% increase;
  • 84,441 IV chemotherapy treatment starts were delivered, a 9% increase;
  • 177,096 radiation treatments were delivered, a 4.7% increase;
  • 153 more urgent cancer surgeries were completed, a 1.1% increase;
  • 1,398 trips for cancer patients were funded through the Canadian Cancer Society Travel Treatment Fund, representing a 742% increase, and the 5,867 individual travel arrangements made for cancer patients by Hope Air represented a 309% increase; and
  • these efforts as well as recruitment of more radiation-therapy staff and expansion of lower volume and innovative radiotherapy services have helped 76.1% people receive radiation treatment within four weeks, an increase of 11.1%.
Optimizing care through collaboration and partnership:

  • 63 new clinical trials opened with 157 interventional clinical trials actively enrolling participants across B.C.;
  • 1,398 trips for cancer patients were funded through the Canadian Cancer Society Travel Treatment Fund, representing a 742% increase;
  •  5,867 individual travel arrangements made for cancer patients by Hope Air represented a 309% increase; and
  • 11,722 nights at Canadian Cancer Society lodges were provided at no cost to patients (previously $55 a night).
Investing in an expanded cancer care system:

  • four new cancer centres advancing in Burnaby, Surrey, Kamloops and Nanaimo that will bring the total to 10 regional cancer centres in B.C.;
  • $24.6 million invested in a new cyclotron and radiopharmacy laboratory to support expanded volume of PET/CT scans;  and
  • $90 million of additional funding to support cancer care was added for 2024-25.
“The first year of B.C.’s 10-year Cancer Action Plan included an unpreceded mobilization of resources and support to expand and improve care for people with cancer throughout the province,” said Dr. Kim Nguyen Chi, executive vice-president and chief medical officer, BC Cancer. “Through this, and the collective commitment of our care teams and our partners, we are addressing today’s challenges and moving forward in our efforts to transform the system as a whole.”
Over the next year, the Province will continue taking action to further prevent, detect and treat cancers. This includes:

  • introducing new treatments, improved radiation-treatment technologies and new anti-cancer drug protocols;
  • expanding the use of the Get Vaccinated system to include the HPV vaccine;
  • making it easier for people without a primary care provider to access colon, breast and lung screening services;
  • reducing wait times for diagnostic tests;
  • continuing to expand clinical trials and cancer research facilities;
  • increasing BC Cancer’s Indigenous workforce and ensuring high-quality, culturally safe cancer care; and
  • continuing to hire key clinical and physician roles in alignment with B.C’s Health Human Resources strategy.
“As we move forward to ensure every patient receives effective, timely and compassionate care and secure a cancer-free future for more people in B.C., we will continue to expand cancer-care services to meet the increasing demand from our growing and aging population,” said Dix. “We will meet that challenge, embrace that purpose and we will excel.”
Quick Facts:
  • One in two people in B.C. will face a cancer diagnosis in their lifetime.
  • This year, more than 34,000 people in B.C. will be diagnosed with cancer.
  • The number of people in B.C. who receive a new diagnosis of cancer is projected to increase from 34,000 in 2024 to 45,000 in 2034.
  • Currently, approximately two-thirds of people in B.C. diagnosed with cancer survive five years or more after a cancer diagnosis.
  • B.C. has the second-lowest age-adjusted mortality rate from cancer in Canada.
  • Since 2017, B.C. has committed more than $1 billion to support the creation of a strong and sustainable cancer-care system.
Learn More:
To read the one-year update of B.C.’s 10-year Cancer Action Plan, visit:

To learn more about B.C.’s 10-year Cancer Care Action Plan, visit:

To read more about B.C.’s Health Human Resources strategy, see:

Two backgrounders follow.


What people are saying about B.C.’s investments in cancer care

Jennifer Rice, Parliamentary Secretary for Rural Health –
“Cancer strikes communities in every corner of our province, and it’s crucial that care is within reach for us all. Our government will continue to support people in rural and remote communities when they need to travel to receive care, so they can focus on treatment, not the logistics and costs of getting the services they need.”

Kelli Paddon, Parliamentary Secretary for Gender Equity –
“Through B.C.’s 10-year Cancer Care Plan, we’re working towards eliminating cervical cancer in a decade. By launching cervix self-screening provincewide, health care is made more accessible, and empowers people with the tools they need to take prevention into their own hands.”

Sarah Roth, president and chief executive officer, BC Cancer Foundation –
“BC Cancer Foundation was honoured to receive the provincial government’s historic $150-million cancer-research grant in 2023. The grant – working in tandem with hundreds of foundation donor-funded, groundbreaking research initiatives, clinical trials and capital projects – serves as a catalyst to save more lives in every corner of B.C.”  

David Byres, president and chief executive officer, Provincial Health Services Authority –
“All British Columbians are deserving of high quality, culturally safe and equitable outcomes and experiences. To achieve this, we are leveraging expert thinking from the Global Advisory Panel, as well as the skill and experiences of staff, physicians, patients, families, Indigenous and First Nations people, researchers, volunteers and partners across the province. Together, we are focused on creating the best possible outcomes and experience for those we serve.”

Sarah Johnston, cancer patient and member of BC Cancer – Kelowna’s Regional Patient Experience Committee –
“I finished chemo and radiation therapy for breast cancer one year ago and today I’m doing everything I can to be a healthier version of myself and to use my voice to improve the experiences of people with cancer. This work is about more than improving care today. It’s about ensuring that when our loved ones face their own cancer diagnoses they have the best possible experience and long, healthy lives beyond cancer.”

B.C.’s 10-Year Cancer Action Plan

In 2023, the Province launched B.C.’s Cancer Action Plan, investing $440 million to:
  • expand cancer-care teams and service hours and hire more staff;
  • introduce revised pay structures as of April 1, 2023, to ensure B.C. is attractive and competitive nationally and internationally for oncologists and radiation therapists;
  • improve cancer-screening programs;
  • increase Indigenous patient support positions;
  • support cancer research and attract the skilled cancer-care providers needed to provide specialized treatments; and
  • add new funding to support people living in rural and remote communities who need to travel for cancer care.
The Province’s Action Plan is strengthening cancer care so more people throughout British Columbia can count on timely and co-ordinated health-care services.

The Action Plan is driven by four key priorities:

  1. Prevent cancer and find cancer earlier through prevention, screening, diagnosis and staging to provide the best chance of lowering the risk of developing or dying from cancer, and helping people live longer, healthier lives.
  2. Ensure timely access to cancer treatments so more people can get the right treatment faster.
  3. Optimize care through collaboration and partnership to support patients in each step of their cancer journey and connect patients to care close to home with the newest treatment options, driven by scientific advances.
  4. Revitalize our cancer-care system through essential enablers to build a strong cancer-care system of health-care professionals, as well as the data and research, the capital and IT infrastructure necessary.

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