Fri. Mar 1st, 2024

Strike: treatments against cancer canceled every day

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Dr. Laura Masucci, president of the Association of Radiation Oncologists of Quebec

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Since the start of pressure tactics in the context of public sector negotiations, there has been much talk of surgical operations and examinations being postponed by the hundreds each day of the strike. However, according to information obtained by Radio-Canada, the treatments of several cancer patients are also canceled or postponed.

In the greater Montreal area, for the strike that is currently underway, we are talking about 20 to 25 treatments per day being canceled, notes the president of the Association of Radiation Oncologists of Quebec, Dr. Laura Masucci. According to her, the start of treatment for almost as many patients is postponed.

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State employees demonstrate for the improvement of their working conditions in front of the CHUM in Montreal.

Health professionals on strike must provide essential services, but certain brachytherapy treatments to treat prostate cancer, for example, require the simultaneous presence of a multidisciplinary team that includes respiratory therapists, anesthesiologists as well as nurses, explains Dr. Masucci.

These rotational absences add to the current shortage of technologists.

At the moment, we can no longer compensate, the balance is too precarious [. ..]. Waiting lists will increase, it is inevitable.

A quote from Dr. Laura Masucci, president of the Association of Radiation Oncologists of Quebec

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At the University of Montreal Hospital Center (CHUM), spokesperson Andrée-Anne Toussaint specifies that for treatments carried out at the Integrated Cancer Center, a maximum of 10 patients per strike day saw their appointments postponed within a period of one week.

Normally, most of the 3,800 annual patients in radiation oncology at the CHUM begin their treatment within four weeks.

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The McGill University Health Center (MUHC), in Montreal.

Similar story at the McGill University Health Center (MUHC), in west Montreal, where oncology treatments and examinations were moved to a later date, within a seven-day window, explains by email to spokesperson Bianca Ledoux-Cancilla. Four oncological surgeries have been canceled at the Montreal General Hospital.

It becomes more difficult to schedule out-of-time and cancer-related surgeries as the number of strike days increases.

A quote from Bianca Ledoux-Cancilla, spokesperson for the MUHC

Last year, the MUHC treated 3,300 radiation oncology patients.

At Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital, in eastern Montreal, repercussions are also being felt.

This week we have 15 radiation oncology treatments which have been postponed out of 60 but which remain within the medically prescribed deadlines, indicates a spokesperson for the CIUSSS de l’Est-de-l’Île-de-Montréal. We also have 20 chemotherapy treatments that have been postponed, which represents 25% of the volume.

Last year, the facility treated 2,800 patients in radiation oncology.

To date, the most virulent cancers are treated as a priority.

Those for whom there is a delay in treatment, these are the patients who are considered less at risk, but less at risk, it is a relativity in oncology, because all patients are at risk, explains the president of the Association of Radiation Oncologists of Quebec.

As Dr. Masucci points out, behind each number, there is a patient, there has a family.

According to the recently published strategic plan of the Ministry of Health, the network aims to return to the pre-pandemic situation with 65% of patients undergoing oncological surgery within 28 days or less.

To date, in 2023-2024, barely 45% of 7,200 patients have been operated on within 28 days, according to ministry data.

The number of new cases of cancer is expected to approach 68,000 this year, whether for lung, breast, prostate or colorectal area.

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