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New cancer centre on the way for Nanaimo

The Nanaimo Cancer Centre will bring the life-saving treatment closer to the people of Nanaimo, as well as residents of the central and north Island.
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​People in Nanaimo and surrounding communities are one step closer to having cancer care in their community with approval of a concept plan for a new cancer centre at the Nanaimo Regional General Hospital (NRGH).

“Getting a cancer diagnosis can be some of the most difficult news someone gets in their life,” said Premier David Eby. “We must ensure people in B.C. can get access to the care they need when they need it. That is why Nanaimo will soon be home to a new cancer care centre. This will bring the latest life-saving technology closer to the people of Nanaimo, as well as residents of the central and north Island.”

In addition to constructing a new cancer centre, hospital upgrades are also approved, which includes renovating and expanding the existing community oncology clinic at NRGH. This will increase the number of treatment spaces and exam rooms, and replace the current cancer outpatient pharmacy.

“This new cancer centre will provide services people can rely on with the latest technology so a cancer-free future can be the reality for more people in B.C.,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “Nanaimo is a rapidly growing community, so it’s important that we continue to meet the demand for health-care services as it evolves. The centre will be crucial in our approach of achieving sustainable cancer care, province-wide.”

The project’s scope and budget will be determined in the business-planning phase, which is underway.

The new cancer centre is expected to offer radiation therapy, an outpatient ambulatory care unit and a net new PET/CT machine. Construction will also include a new radiation-treatment space with four shielded treatment rooms for high-energy radiation-treatment linear accelerators, which deliver high-energy X-rays or electrons to the region of a patient's tumour.

Cancer care in Nanaimo is delivered through the community oncology network clinic at NRGH. There are also community oncology network cancer services available at the North Island Hospital campuses in Courtenay and Campbell River, as well as at the Cowichan District Hospital in Duncan.

The cancer centre is a part of the Province’s 10-year B.C. cancer action plan, which outlines immediate steps to prevent, detect and treat cancers, delivering improved care for people facing cancer now while preparing for the growing needs of the future.  

    Two backgrounders follow.


    Island Health oncology facts

    • Services available at the outpatient care clinics in Island Health hospital community oncology network sites include:
      • an oncology clinic providing assessment, treatment and education;
      • systemic (chemo) therapy;
      • dedicated cancer pharmacies that prepare chemotherapy and other cancer-related prescriptions, as well as provide drug counselling and education; and
      • access by telephone to a Victoria cancer centre based Indigenous patient liaison/advocate, social workers, dietitians and librarians.
    • Concept planning is a key part of the process that ensures the specific needs of the community are identified and addressed.
    • The business plan is expected to be approved in fall 2023.

    What people are saying about government’s actions

    Sheila Malcolmson, MLA for Nanaimo –

    “We all want people in Nanaimo and throughout B.C. to get the health care they need, especially at a time of critical illness. I’m so glad we can bring a cancer centre to Nanaimo to provide people care and support close to home.”

    Doug Routley, MLA for Nanaimo-North Cowichan –

    “It’s crucial that we as a government work proactively to accommodate the future demand for health-care services in British Columbia, especially in growing communities like Nanaimo. The new cancer centre will help us meet the current needs of residents in Nanaimo and surrounding communities, while ensuring they have somewhere to turn to as they age, and the risk of cancer grows.”

    Adam Walker, MLA for Parksville-Qualicum –

    “A new cancer centre in Nanaimo is another step forward in reaching our provincial goal of a cancer-free future for more people. But it means more to the people residing in communities from North Cowichan to Qualicum, and the entire north Island. People rely on the current cancer-care services provided in Nanaimo. Expanding on and improving those services means patients and their loved ones will be able to live more comfortable lives.”

    Dr. Kim Chi, chief medical officer, BC Cancer –

    “We are excited to move forward with the Nanaimo cancer centre. This new centre will help reduce the stress of travel for families in communities throughout north and central Vancouver Island and allow them to access life-saving treatment closer to home. Significantly, it will also boost capacity for cancer care for all British Columbians, helping to meet the growing demand in this region and across the province.”

    Sarah Roth, president and CEO, BC Cancer Foundation –

    “Nanaimo’s new cancer centre is an historic opportunity for our dedicated donor community on Vancouver Island to have a direct impact on increasing access to cutting-edge cancer care. We’re incredibly proud to partner with the provincial government and BC Cancer on such an important project.”

    David Byres, president and CEO, Provincial Health Services Authority –

    “As we move into this next stage of planning for a cancer centre in Nanaimo, we look forward to working collaboratively with our partners at Island Health and engaging local communities, patients, families and Indigenous partners. Our goal is to complement the services already delivered at BC Cancer – Victoria and to deliver person-centred, culturally safe care to people with cancer throughout Vancouver Island.”

    Leah Hollins, chair, Island Health Board–

    “The expansion of cancer-care infrastructure at NRGH will enable Island Health and BC Cancer to provide greater access to cancer care, treatment and diagnostics closer to home for people living in communities on central and north Vancouver Island. Having these cancer-care services available in Nanaimo will eliminate countless hours of travel time for many patients, significantly improving the patient experience, and bring life-saving cancer care to the central Island.”

    Barney Ellis-Perry, CEO, Nanaimo and District Hospital Foundation –

    “We know cancer affects thousands of people living in the central Island region every year. We are eager to work with community donors to fundraise for critical equipment in support of these cancer-care improvements at NRGH.”

    Ian Thorpe, chair, Nanaimo Regional Hospital District –

    “A cancer centre in our region is desperately needed to shorten wait lists, reduce travel to other regions for treatment and provide patients with more cancer-care options closer to home. The Province’s commitment to a new cancer centre in Nanaimo provides hope for better health outcomes to the roughly 3,500 residents north of the Malahat who are diagnosed with cancer annually.”

    SOURCE: New cancer centre on the way for Nanaimo ( )
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