Over 90% of cancer patients started radiation therapy within the national wait time target of 28 days from ready-to-treat.
The median and 90th percentile radiation therapy wait times from ready-to-treat to start of radiation for patients treated for all types of cancer and for the four most common cancers in 2014. Results are presented by province and disease site.
The national wait time target is that 90% of patients should receive radiation therapy within 28 days of being ready to treat.
The Canadian Association of Radiation Oncologists (CARO) wait time target is that patients should receive radiation therapy within 14 days of being ready to treat.
The 2009 Cancer System Performance Report.
Why measure this?
Timely access to radiation therapy is a key component of a high-quality cancer control system; it can reduce anxiety for patients and their families and ensure prompt treatment for patients who need it. Reducing radiation therapy wait times is a national health care priority.1 A national wait time target has been set and provincial initiatives have been implemented to reduce wait times. Reporting on radiation therapy wait times is an important step to understanding the health care system’s ability to meet the needs of patients with cancer.
What are the key findings?
- In the 2014 treatment year, 90th percentile radiation therapy wait times ranged from 19 days in New Brunswick to 27 days in Prince Edward Island. All six reporting provinces achieved the target of 90% of patients treated within 28 days of being ready to treat (Feature 4.10).
- The percentage of cancer patients treated within the wait time target ranged from 92.2% in Prince Edward Island to 99.9% in Manitoba (Feature 4.10).
- The 90th percentile wait time decreased slightly in four of the six reporting provinces (British Columbia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador) from 2013 to 2014 (data not shown).
- Of the four most common disease sites—breast, colorectal, lung and prostate—prostate cancer patients continue to have the longest 90th percentile radiation therapy wait times, ranging from 24 days in Alberta to 30 days in New Brunswick (Feature 4.11). However, compared with 2013, radiation therapy wait times for prostate cancer are improving in four of the five provinces that reported data (data not shown).
Why do these findings matter?
All reporting provinces achieved the national target of 90% of patients receiving radiation therapy within 28 days of being ready to treat. Ensuring patients receive timely access to radiation therapy has positive implications for patient experience, such as reduced anxiety. Patients with prostate cancer continue to wait slightly longer for radiation therapy than patients with breast, colorectal or lung cancer. It is important to note that longer wait times for prostate cancer may be expected given the nature of the disease. Many prostate cancers are slow growing, so treatment may be considered less urgent for prostate cancer than for other cancers.
- Health Canada. A 10-Year Plan to Strengthen Health Care [Internet]. Ottawa (ON): Health Canada; 2004 [updated 2006 Sep 5; cited 2015 Dec 10]. Available from: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hcs-sss/delivery-prestation/fptcollab/2004-fmm-rpm/bg-fi-eng.php.