Access to Care

Access to Care

Who doesn’t get treatment?  Who should?


Radiotherapy (RT) utilization – the proportion of cancer patients who receive RT – can be considered a key measure of access. RTU has been calculated regionally in several provinces including British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario. Studies in these provinces have shown that RT utilization rates fall short of desired benchmarks, currently around 34% suggesting that some cancer patients who live in these provinces, and who would benefit from RT, are not receiving it.

CPQR worked with stakeholders to help understand whether these shortfalls exist in other Canadian provinces, and to what extent. This work was the first step in understanding inequities in access to radiation treatment across Canada, barriers to access and equitable access for all Canadians and improved cancer outcomes.

Organization in Charge

CAPCA and CPQR are pleased to announce that effective October 1, 2021, CPQR will become a standing committee within CAPCA. This is an important step to sustaining radiation treatment quality improvement advances made over the last 10 years, improving clinical outcomes through radiation treatment innovation and strengthening system performance.

The Canadian Association of Provincial Cancer Agencies (CAPCA) and its Canadian Partnership for Quality Radiotherapy Committee (CPQR) have a shared commitment to improving cancer care for Canadians by supporting high quality, patient-centred and safe radiation treatment across the country. CAPCA supports jurisdictional approaches to reducing barriers to accessing radiation treatment.


As an initial step to understanding how to address barriers to access, a pan-Canadian study was conducted to calculate and describe radiotherapy utilization rates by province.

Under the guidance of Jessica Chan, CPQR’s residency fellow, CPQR gathered data on total number of new RT patients treated over a 1-year time period, classified by disease site (lung, breast, prostate, colorectal) and intent (curative, palliative). Data collection involved examining each province’s central repository of RT data to obtain the total number of RT patients treated within a province or engaging RT leads at each RT centre within a province to acquire the number of RT patients treated per centre.

Data on the number of new cancer cases were obtained through each province’s cancer registry, with coordination through the provincial RT lead. By dividing the number of RT patients by the province’s number of new cancer cases, CPQR calculated the RT utilization ratio for each province, and compared these ratios with previously established Canadian benchmarks.

CPQR created a helpful info graphic that describes the results of this work here.