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Your Visit

The BC Cancer Agency helps you prepare for your visit to a cancer centre or clinic.
New patients
All cancer patients have questions and concerns about their diagnosis, treatment and recovery. We want you to know how important it is for you to feel comfortable talking to us. Your cancer care team is here to discuss your concerns and answer any questions you may have. 

Your referral to the BC Cancer Agency connects you and your family and friends to a full network of cancer services including high-quality, effective treatment, support programs and nutritional guidance. You also have access to the Library and all its information resources.

Your first appointment is usually scheduled about two weeks after you've been referred to one of our regional cancer centres. Before this appointment, you'll receive a call from a member of the health-care team. This call will cover:

  • general personal information                  
  • the names of physicians who are treating you now                  
  • whether you need any language translation help 
  • whether you need someone to drive you to and from your appointment.

If this will be your first visit with us, please see Centres & Clinics for what to bring, where to park and more. 


To help you communicate with your health-care professional, the Provincial Language Service offers an interpreting service 24 hours a day, in over 150 different languages and dialects. Sign language interpreters are also available for deaf and hard-of-hearing patients. 

Patients or family members can ask a member of the health-care team to place a request for an interpreter (at no cost). 

Please call 604-297-8400; toll-free 1-877-BC TALKS (1-877-228-2557). For more information on the service please see the Provincial Language Service website.
Cancer care team

A collaborative team of health-care professionals will support you during your assessment, treatment and follow-up care. Each team member plays a special role. 

Some of your team members will work directly with you to provide health services and support. Others will help you and your family deal with the physical and emotional impact of cancer. Others work behind the scenes to ensure you receive high-quality care and support.


Individuals who receive, process and communicate information to assist healthcare professionals in providing care. This may take many forms e.g. scheduling clinic appointments, booking tests, requesting records or information, taking personal and biographic information for registration etc.

Clinical Associates

Physicians who gather medical information that will assist the oncologist.

Counsellors / Social Workers

Professional counsellors are available to help you and your loved ones deal with the emotional challenges associated with cancer. Our counsellors can help you to clarify concerns, express emotions and discover the strengths you'll need to cope successfully. They can also connect you with the many support programs available at the BC Cancer Agency as well as community groups and other services. Assistance is also available to help you deal with financial stresses and receive support at home. See Coping with Cancer for more information.


Physicians specializing in the diagnosis of cancer by the microscopic examination body fluids (including cervical (Pap) smears. A Cytopathologist also performs fine needle aspiration biopsies and provides a diagnosis to the doctor within a few minutes of the procedure in order to minimize delays in treatment planning by the oncologists.


Screens cytology preparations using a microscope and marks areas that appear abnormal so that they can be reviewed by a Cytopathologist who issues a diagnosis.  In the case of Pap smears, cytotechnologists also report normal findings and non-malignant changes noted by microscopic examination.


Both chemotherapy and radiotherapy can produce changes in the mouth, such as soreness or dryness. The Oral Oncology Department is available to help manage mouth problems if they arise. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions regarding mouth care as you go through treatment.


Specialist in skin cancer.

Dietitians (Registered)

You and your family may have a number of questions about nutrition. "Should I change the way I eat during cancer treatment?" or "What can I do if I have lost my appetite or I am losing weight?" Our Registered Dietitians (RD) are skilled in the nutritional care of people with cancer and offer counselling to manage with the various nutritional difficulties which might arise during your treatment.  

Genetic Counsellors

Health professionals with a specialized graduate degree and experience in the areas of medical genetics and counselling. Genetic counsellors work as members of a health care team, providing information and support to families who may be at risk for a variety of inherited conditions.

Genetic Pathologist

Physician specializing in genetic testing of inherited cancers, cancer genetics, cancer cytogenetics and molecular pathology.


Physician specializing in the diagnosis of leukemia and lymphoma and other blood, lymph gland, spleen and bone marrow disorders.

Laboratory Assistant   

Assists technologists in sample preparation for analysis.

Laboratory Technologist   

Prepares blood, body fluids, and tissues for analysis by automated instruments, microscopy, molecular analysis, flow cytometry, and performs analysis by such methods.


Manage the Library and Cancer Information Centre, and are available to answer any questions you may have. They can find multiple resources for you about cancer, its treatment and how to cope with the disease.

Medical Biochemist

Physician specializing in the interpretation of biochemical changes in blood associated with cancer and other conditions.

Medical Geneticist 

Physician with specialized training and experience in the areas of medical genetics and counselling. They also provide information and support to families who may be at risk for a variety of inherited conditions. 

Medical Physicist

Professionals with specialized training in the medical applications of physics. Their work often involves the use of x-rays, ultrasound, magnetic and electric fields, infrared and ultraviolet light, heat and lasers in diagnosis and therapy. Medical physicists work in radiation therapy, radiation safety, diagnostic imaging and research development.


Oncology nurses are Registered Nurses who have additional education in cancer care. They administer chemotherapy treatments or care for patients while they are receiving radiation therapy and other treatments. Other nurses work on the in-patient units caring for patients who must stay in hospital.  Some nurses also work with patients who are receiving investigational treatments.


A doctor who specialized in cancer (oncology) treatment. Oncologists study your cancer and recommend a treatment program, including the types of tests that you will need.

Medical Oncologist

A medical oncologist uses treatments such as chemotherapy, gene therapy, hormone therapy, immunotherapy and other systemic therapies to treat and control cancer and its symptoms. These treatments may be taken orally or by injection through a vein in your arm. A medical oncologist will discuss your treatment with you and will recommend a treatment program, however, the actual treatment will be carried out by a number of other health care professionals.

Radiation Oncologist

A radiation oncologist primarily uses radiation to treat or control cancer and its symptoms, although they may also use drug treatments. They will decide how long your treatment will last and will monitor your progress during and after treatment. Radiation therapy uses beams of high-energy x-rays to destroy cancer cells. A radiation oncologist works with a team of physicists to design your radiation therapy plan.

Surgical Oncologist

A surgeon who specializes in cancer operations.


Physicians specializing in cancer diagnosis and predictive testing. They ensure that each patient's diagnosis is correct, that each cancer is correctly classified, graded (the probable growth rate of the tumour and its tendency to spread) and staged (the extent of the cancer within the body), and where necessary, orders additional tests for guiding therapy by oncologists. 


Professionals who prepare the drugs, which are administered while you are at the Centre, and will provide you with the drugs you might need to take at home. Drugs not provided by the Agency may be purchased at a retail pharmacy. You will be provided with written instructions for taking your medication. 


Highly experienced in obtaining blood samples from patients with minimal pain or bruising.


Psychiatrists are trained medical specialists in the diagnosis and management of mental illness. They help cancer patients at the Agency with psychological, emotional or behavioural problems, whether new or pre-existing, throughout the course of their journey with cancer. 

Radiation Therapist

Radiation therapists are specially trained to deliver your radiation treatment and operate the radiation therapy equipment.

Radiographers / Diagnostic Imaging Technologists

Registered radiographers are trained in the techniques for safely obtaining images, including general X-rays, ultrasound, computerized tomography, mammograms and magnetic resonance images (MRIs) for the purpose of diagnosing illness and monitoring the patients' response to therapy.


Physicians who specialize in the use of imaging techniques (X-rays, Ultrasound, CT, MRI, fine needle biopsy, etc.) for diagnosis or in assisting treatment, for example in inserting catheters into blood vessels, in choking the blood supply of a tumour by injection of a type of glue, etc.

Respiratory Therapist

A respiratory therapist is responsible for the administration of diagnostic lung function tests and of procedures to restore optimal use of your lungs.


Volunteers enhance the quality of care for both patients and families as well as complementing the role of the staff throughout the Agency.

BC Cancer Agency Staff

There are many more individuals who work to ensure each cancer patient receives high-quality care and support. 

Our staff are all happy to provide information and support, or to redirect your questions as required.

Your information

Requests for patient records

To request information from your health record:

1Complete the authorization form

Fill in the Authorization Form for the Release of Health Records, following the Authorization Form Instructions.

2Submit the authorization form

Fax or mail the completed form to the BC Cancer Agency centre or hospital from which you are requesting records (see the Hospital Contact List).

Read more about requesting patient records in Frequently Asked Questions.

Caring for your information

When you are receiving care, treatment and services at the BC Cancer Agency, our staff and physicians will collect personal information from you.

Where permitted, the BC Cancer Agency will also collect information about you from other health care providers or health care organizations. For example, copies of records, medication information or test results.

Your information may be entered into our electronic health information systems to assist authorized persons in quickly accessing pertinent information wherever you may be receiving care or services. 

We collect, use and share your personal information under the primary authority of the BC Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA). FIPPA and other legislations authorize us to use and share your personal information for these reasons:

  • to identify you and keep in contact with you about your health care
  • to provide ongoing care and support of care activities
  • to help us plan, monitor, maintain and improve our care and services, for education and training (e.g. medical students) and to conduct research with consent or as permitted by law
  • to know your eligibility for benefits and services and to arrange medical services billing to enable parties (e.g. Ministry of Health Services, Canadian Institute of Health Information) to confirm your identity, conduct planning and improvement activities, measure performance and fund healthcare 
  • to analyze, manage and control disease outbreaks and monitor the overall health of people 
  • as required by law (e.g. court order, reportable conditions) and as authorized by FIPPA
Your health information will be provided to your referring physician, other authorized health care professionals and their support staff, or health care agencies and facilities involved in your care to support continuous and consistent care and service.

In some cases, these health professionals may look up your health information in our electronic health information systems in order to provide you with direct or supporting services.

eHealth &Your Information

eHealth is a provincial initiative that allows certain aspects of your health information to be accessed by authorized health care professionals throughout the province and not just within a particular region. Each health authority sends specific health information to a province-wide electronic information system, where it is stored with strict protections and used for limited and authorized purposes. For more information about eHealth, please visit the government eHealth website.

For more information

If you have any questions about this notice and the protection of your personal information, please contact the Information Access & Privacy Office at 604-707-5834. 
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