Transforming the Cancer Patient Journey

There’s a bold plan underway - improve the quality and speed of service for patients suspected of having cancer to get through diagnosis and into their first treatment (if needed) within 60 days.

The current waits in this starting portion of the cancer journey are estimated to be between three to nine months. We all likely know someone who has had or is currently dealing with cancer, because over 6100 Manitoba patients are diagnosed each year and up to ten times more undergo investigations for suspected cancers. For all of these people and their families, this is the start of a cancer journey which is fear-filled, confusing, and disruptive to daily living. Cancer processes are complex, involving multiple providers, multiple fields of testing and care, and multiple organizations each carrying out business their way. Often the processes and communication between providers causes duplication of workload for staff - so the journey isn't easy for them either.

Clearly we are all part of the cancer journey and the delays and confusing experience of the journey is unacceptable for our loved ones, our friends, our coworkers and us. That’s why the Manitoba government committed $4o million dollars toward Transforming the Cancer Patient Journey.  The ground work has started with the Cancer Patient Journey initiative, a province-wide reform of the way in which cancer patients and suspected cancer patients begin their path through our medical system. With a main focus on faster, high-quality patient care, but also on reduction in workload waste through improved navigation and provider-to-provider processes, we’ll reach the goal. 60 days: suspicion to treatment.

Quality care begins with how we all communicate with patients. A patient participation advisory group made up of cancer survivors and current cancer patients is a critical component in all the work done in the Cancer Patient Journey initiative. Based on personal experiences with health providers, the patient advisory group has developed a Communicating with Patients Guiding Principle:

It is the responsibility of the health care system, and all people within its employ, to seek out the patient’s voice and to actively hear that voice. All patient voices are important. Not all patients will have the ability to self advocate in order to have their communication needs met. It is the responsibility of the system to ensure all patients communication needs are met proactively, not only those patients whom are able to self-advocate. Open communication with patients should begin at the outset of the patient’s journey and be sustained throughout the patient’s journey. Every person with cancer will have different communication needs. Communication approaches should be customized to the individual patient’s needs.

Quality care is also based on how effectively we communicate with each other on behalf of patients. How we all work together is essential to improving the journey for all cancer patients. Over the next four years you’ll learn about improvements to Manitoba’s Cancer Journey and how you are essential in the improvements for cancer patients. In fact, you can start to participate in and benefit from this exciting work right now. One of the best ways to help immediately is consider and discuss how you and others in your department can better communicate with patients and for patients who may have cancer or be waiting on a cancer diagnosis.  

And check out some of the progress made so far by the Cancer Patient Journey initiative.

Release of Draft Cancer Clinical Pathways

Reducing Cancer Confusion

For questions about on Manitoba’s Cancer Patient Journey initiative, email

The Cancer Patient Journey initiative is a partnership of Manitoba Health, CancerCare Manitoba, Shared Health, and Regional Health Authorities of Manitoba.

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