The Manitoba government has reached a milestone in improving access to cancer treatment for rural families with the opening of the province’s final rural cancer hub in Steinbach. This announcement was made by Health Minister Erin Selby.
In addition, the minister marked Cervical Cancer Awareness Week in Manitoba by announcing the introduction of leading-edge technology called liquid-based cytology to improve cervical cancer screening and certain non-gynecological diagnostic testing.
“Women can now have greater confidence that accurate Pap test results will be available more quickly,” said Minister Selby. “This is another concrete example of the innovative work being done in Manitoba to reduce the time between suspicion of cancer and the start of cancer treatment, and builds on the Manitoba government’s commitment to shorten the cancer patient journey.”
Liquid-based cytology is a new method for preparing cervical samples for microscopic examination. Samples are collected in a similar way to the traditional Pap smear, but can be analyzed more quickly and accurately, reducing the need for re-testing. The Manitoba government has invested over $270,000 to install new equipment that supports liquid-based cytology in public laboratories across the province, the minister said.
“We understand how important it is to have accurate and timely information for health-related tests,” said Jim Slater, chief executive officer, Diagnostic Services Manitoba, the organization responsible for Manitoba’s public laboratory and rural diagnostic imaging services. “Technology advancements like liquid-based cytology enable us to improve services and better support the health-care needs of Manitobans. This will provide more timely results and reduce the time pathologists spend analyzing these tests while making additional data available to improve the quality of cervical cancer screening.”
Every year in Manitoba, 45 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer. Regular screening can prevent up to 80 per cent of cervical cancer. Manitoba’s CervixCheck program recommends all women who have ever been sexually active receive a Pap test every three years starting at age 21.
“CervixCheck is excited to see this technology come to Manitoba. It’s better for both patients and practitioners,” said Dr. Sri Navaratnam, president and chief executive officer, CancerCare Manitoba. “We will be supporting the labs as they roll out liquid-based cytology by providing education and resources to the public and health-care providers.”
The minister also announced the official opening of the Steinbach cancer hub, which is bringing faster access to cancer treatment closer to home for families.
“This new hub fulfils our commitment to expand rural chemotherapy sites into cancer hubs across the province. These hubs are making a real difference for Manitoba families,” said Minister Selby. “Time is of the essence when someone is diagnosed with cancer and it’s so important that people get the care they need quickly and close to home. Hubs bring care providers together to make sure patients and their families receive the care and support they need.”
Community and regional cancer hubs offer enhanced co-ordinated care. The Cancer Navigation Services team provides services in the Steinbach and surrounding communities and is based on the Bethesda Campus in Steinbach. Services will include a full-time nurse navigator, a psychosocial oncology clinician, a family physician with a specialty in oncology, a community liaison and a clerk, Minister Selby said, adding this will support enhanced access to CancerCare Manitoba expertise for patients and health-care providers across the region.
“This second hub in our region will have a tremendous impact,” says Kathy McPhail, chief executive officer, Southern Health-Santé Sud. “Transforming the patient’s journey aligns with our mandate to enhance the patient experience and to attain standards of excellence. Southern Health-Santé Sud considers it a privilege to be part of this expanded initiative, working collaboratively with CancerCare and the province.”
All front-line staff will receive training from CancerCare Manitoba and will support patients at critical points throughout their treatment, Minister Selby said. The experts who staff cancer hubs will work with local health-care providers and patient navigators to co-ordinate quick diagnosis, treatment and followup for patients, she added.
“The opening of the Steinbach hub is bringing faster access to cancer treatment closer to home for families,” said Minister Selby. “This new hub fulfils our commitment to expand rural chemotherapy sites into cancer hubs across the province. These hubs are making a real difference for Manitoba families.”
“The launch of the Steinbach cancer hub expands the provincial cancer hub network, enabling delivery of a key commitment of IN SIXTY – expedited, state-of-the-art cancer care for all Manitobans,” said Dr. Navaratnam. “We thank our partners in Steinbach, the Southern Health-Santé Sud region, and across the province for their support and hard work to improve the cancer patient journey.”