Health Minister Provides Update on Cancer Care in Kelowna, But Motivation Questioned

British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix was in Kelowna on Thursday to provide an update on the province’s 10-year Cancer Action Plan.

“The demand for cancer care is of course always high and is expected to increase as our population grows,” Dix said outside the cancer clinic. “This year alone, 34,000 people in British Columbia will be diagnosed with cancer and that number will be 10,000 more in 10 years.”

Last year, the province announced a ten-year plan to improve cancer care.

Since then, progress has been made, Dix said.

“We are building four new cancer centres, BC Cancer Centres, to bring cancer care closer to home in our province,” said the Minister of Health.

These new centres will be located in Kamloops, Nanaimo, Surrey and Burnaby.

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Dix read 27 pages of notes and provided much detailed information about the improvements made in cancer care in BC

“We hired 92 new doctors this year, cancer doctors, we hired 32 new radiation therapists this year and it’s confirmed that 18 more will start later this year,” he stated.

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He added that screening services to detect and prevent cancer have also been expanded, providing some concrete numbers.

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“We completed another 27,326 mammograms, colon and lung exams this year. We completed another 565 appointments for hereditary cancer screening,” Dix said. “We performed 1,566 PET CT scans this year, which is a 10 percent increase. We increased PET CT capacity by expanding hours here in Kelowna and Victoria.”

“We are expanding treatments like radiation, chemotherapy and surgery faster than we were last year. We are keeping our cancer centers open longer to provide more care,” Dix said.

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“We are delivering radiotherapy to 856 more patients this year, an increase of 6.4 percent in one year. We have delivered IV chemotherapy to 801 more patients in cancer centers this year, an increase of eight percent.”

Dix also said that in some cases the government also covers radiation treatments in the United States.

“We offer, as everyone knows, radiation therapy to patients at one of two clinics in Bellingham, Washington, to connect more people to the cancer care they need,” he said.

Dr. Michael Humer, a retired surgeon, questioned the motivation behind the press conference just months before the election.

“I’m not sure what the announcement was today. I congratulate the minister on coming to Kelowna, it seems like it was a political announcement and I’m not sure what the announcement was today,” Humer said.

However, Dix denied that there was anything political going on.

“It’s absolutely the opposite of that,” Dix said. “This is a ten-year cancer plan that we have achieved within our budget. We’ve made a very significant investment and we’re adding services all the time, including here, but what this says to people: you’re making a 10-year cancer announcement, people deserve to know what happened.

Dix promised that if he is still health minister, a similar update on the cancer action plan will be given again in a year.

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Klaudia Van Emmerik

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