Dr. Angeline Letendre, lead scientist at the Alberta Cancer Prevention Legacy Fund, held a full-day conference in Calgary Jan. 25 to discuss opportunities to improve cancer experiences for Indigenous communities.
“There really hasn’t been any work looking at developing a foundation of a service pathway for First Nations, and certainly nothing grounded in partnership with First Nations people themselves,” Letendre said.
According to the Alberta Baseline Assessment Report, co-authored by Letendre in 2015, the survival rate of Indigenous people with cancer is 53 per cent, significantly lower than non-Indigenous cancer patients.
The report, which assesses Indigenous cancer care in Alberta, also found that Indigenous cancer patients are diagnosed later than non-Indigenous counterparts, with isolation, discrimination, distrust of the system, and difficulty navigating cancer care and treatment all playing a role.
“Especially in Alberta, if we have (First Nations, Métis and Inuit) communities and partners all working together with the cancer system, that will speak volumes.
“Until everyone is at same table looking at ways together, it will take longer to improve the patient journey,” said Pam Tobin, director of First Nations, Inuit and Métis Cancer Control at the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer.
The day-long forum brought together partners, patients and community members.