August 11, 2022 –
A University of Manitoba study focused on understanding the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on cancer care in Manitoba has received more than $439,000 from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). The grant is part of the CIHR’s COVID-19 funding to address the broader health impact.
dr Kathleen Decker, associate professor of community health sciences at Max Reedy College of Medicine and senior scientist and director of the health research platform at CancerCare Manitoba Research Institute, said the pandemic is having an unprecedented impact on cancer control in the province. – From screening and diagnosis to treatment and survival.
Decker, the study’s principal investigator, said some of the impacts of the pandemic include changes to cancer screening programs, a switch to virtual face-to-face care for some patients, changes to chemotherapy and radiation therapy schedules, and prioritization of key cancer surgeries.
“We need to use real-world data to measure the true impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on cancer care in Manitoba, and that’s what we wanted to do with this study,” Decker said.
The research will examine the impact of the pandemic on breast, cervical and colorectal cancer screening during the pandemic. It will also examine the impact on clinical trials for breast, cervical and colon cancer, as well as the impact on cancer incidence and changes in the stage at which a person is diagnosed with cancer.
The study will also assess the impact of the pandemic on treatment rates and the timing of first aid. The project will address the time savings of patients who received virtual care and did not have to travel to appointments. It will also assess the impact of the pandemic on overall survival.
“The aim of the study is to really understand how the pandemic has impacted cancer care, as this will not be the last time the cancer care system is affected by major changes and we don’t want to be vulnerable in the future,” says Decker said. Said. “We want to learn from this so that we can make our systems better and more resilient, so that if this happens again or even if there are other bottlenecks in the system – like floods or equipment failures or supply chain issues, we can better handle it.”
He is an assistant professor of surgery at Max Reedy College of Medicine and director of surgical oncology at CancerCare Manitoba. Pamela Hebbard said disruptions in health services could mean there are people who have missed or delayed a cancer diagnosis. He said there are some unanswered questions he hopes to answer with this research.
“We know that patients who came through the door were treated, but one question is: are we missing patients?” study staff member Hebbard said. “Are patients at home afraid to seek healthcare and now have more advanced cancers? We look to see if there are any flaws, and if we don’t see them, where are they? Some patients may die from COVID. Just being able to explain it and then plan to fight cancer, I think that’s really important.”
Initial funding for the study came from Research Manitoba and the CancerCare Manitoba Foundation.