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L-R: Dr. Bruce Colwell and Dr. Murray Nixon

Family physicians key to improved care for cancer patients

Family doctors are the ‘go to’ people for ear aches, sore throats, insomnia, stress-related illness, and all manner of aches and pains. They have seen it all. They are at the front doors of our health care system in Canada. Regardless of our health concern or the number of specialists we go on to see, they are the first stop and they remain the one constant in our journey through the health system.

This is particularly true for cancer patients. From the point of diagnosis through the various investigations, treatment and survivorship, a cancer patient will have, on average, 12 different physician specialists involved in their treatment. The majority of these specialists will only see the patient once or twice and only for a very brief period.

Family doctors, however,  have the benefit of an ongoing relationship with their patients. They are generally the first to see these patients

Integrating Primary Care and Cancer
April 23, 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Atlantica Hotel Halifax
1980 Robie St., Halifax, NS

Remuneration is available for fee-for-service physicians, at the negotiated rate for administrative work, and other health professionals, however, funding is limited.

and they continue to see them between, during and after cancer treatments for both related and unrelated issues and worries. It is worth noting that countries with more family physicians experience earlier detection of cancer and decreased mortality rates. Family doctors have a lot to offer both to their patients and cancer specialists, but they need to be included in the care plan to really be effective. To date, however, they have not been adequately engaged.

For these reasons, Cancer Care Nova Scotia (CCNS) is working to better support family doctors in caring for cancer patients. On April 23rd,CCNS will host a one day meeting for family doctors, cancer specialists, nurse practitioners and other health professionals. Its purpose is to explore issues that enable / challenge family physicians and other primary care providers in cancer control; identify necessary supports to enhance their ability to support their patients; as well as discuss their appropriate role in cancer care across the continuum. 

Family Physicians are important members of the integrated cancer team and are key to ensuring better continuity of care for cancer patients. With the increase in cancer incidence, as a result of our aging population and better early detection programs, the need for the involvement of family physicians and other primary care providers has never been greater. Cancer Care Nova Scotia is committed to facilitating the discussion and helping to map out the plan with the goal of providing patients with the highest quality of cancer care possible.


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