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Longer treatment hours for cancer patients

Patients in Edmonton and Calgary are receiving better access to care with evening and weekend cancer treatments. 

“Going through cancer treatment is a very difficult experience for patients and their families. Extending hours of operation at both the Tom Baker Cancer Centre in Calgary and the Cross Cancer Institute in Edmonton is an example of how we are protecting and improving the things that make life better for patients. We are committed to continue making a real difference in the lives of Albertans by ensuring health care has predictable, sustainable funding that supports frontline care."

Sarah Hoffman, Minister of Health

In January 2017, the Blood and Marrow Transplant Clinic at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre in Calgary began opening its doors on weekends and extending its weekday hours to allow more patients to receive their care in an outpatient setting.

Starting last October, the Cross Cancer Institute in Edmonton extended medical oncology services from five to six days a week, and radiation oncology hours have been extended by one hour Monday to Friday.

“We are committed to ensuring cancer patients receive timely access to care. By extending hours of cancer services into the evenings and weekends in Edmonton and Calgary, more patients can receive their cancer care in an outpatient setting. These changes help address the urgent and growing need for care as we continue to provide the highest quality of cancer services.”

Dr. Francois Belanger, Vice President, Quality and Chief Medical Officer

“Treating cancer quickly is critical so we are very pleased that Alberta Health Services and the provincial government are finding ways to treat more patients. Every day, more than 43 Albertans are diagnosed with cancer—extending hours helps keep up with that demand and ensure better outcomes for Albertans facing this disease.”

Myka Osinchuk, CEO of the Alberta Cancer Foundation.

“Anytime we increase access and capacity for cancer treatments we save and improve the lives of cancer patients. We applaud Minister Hoffman for this important announcement and initiative.”

Dan Holinda, Alberta/NWT Division Executive Director, Canadian Cancer Society

“I truly support the initiative to have access to cancer care on evenings and weekends. During an appointment on the weekend at the BMT clinic, it was discovered my oxygen levels were low and we were able to set up a home-care treatment system that prevented me from being hospitalized.”

Christopher Kucharski, cancer survivor

Quick facts

  • On average, the Tom Baker Cancer Centre treats between 24-30 patients, including patients with bone marrow cancer, every weekend.
  • The Cross Cancer Institute treats between 40-50 patients (through 16 spaces).
  • Recent quarterly results show an overall increase of 3.7 per cent in all cancer treatments across the province. Radiation therapy treatments, in particular, are up by 5.6 per cent.
  • Radiation Therapy Ready to Treat wait times recently reached 2.7 weeks, close to the provincial target of 2.6 weeks.
  • Radiation oncology referral to consult is holding steady at five weeks.
  • Medical oncology referral to consult is showing improvement at 5.1 weeks (down from 5.4 weeks in 2015/16).

Hours

Tom Baker Cancer Centre

  • The Bone Marrow Treatment area at the Tom Baker Centre is now open seven days a week: Mon-Fri (7 a.m. to 7 p.m.), and Sat-Sun (8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.).
  • Radiation therapy is now available Mon-Fri (7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.). This is a change from Mon-Fri (8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.).
  • Systemic therapy is available Mon-Fri (8 a.m. to 6 p.m.) and on statutory holidays (8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.).

Cross Cancer Institute

  • Previously, medical oncology (including chemotherapy and some urgent care needs) was only open five days per week and only four days on long weekends at the Cross Cancer Institute in Edmonton.
  • Medical oncology services for chemotherapy and low-level urgent care needs are now open six days a week (Mon-Sat), including long weekends. 

Media inquiries

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