Cancer referral and treatment activity 2010–2015: a population-based study from Vancouver Island

P. Savage, C. Holloway, G. Lindsay, K. Shubrook, C. Jones, M. Fung, K. Schaff, H. Anderson, K. Nystedt, J. Rauw



The years since 2005 have seen major changes in cancer treatment and significant increases in the number of anticancer drugs available. However, there are relatively few published data to reflect how those changes are affecting the activity and workload of oncology services. To explore the effects of those changes, we reviewed the population-based cancer treatment activity on Vancouver Island for the period 2010–2015.


Information about new patient referrals, radiation courses, new chemotherapy cycles commenced, total intravenous (IV) chemotherapy treatment visits, and pharmacy activity for oral anticancer drug prescriptions was obtained from BC Cancer Agency databases.


During the 5-year study period, the Vancouver Island population increased by 2.8% and the number of new referrals to the BC Cancer Agency increased by 17.7%. The overall number of radiation courses increased by 6.1%. In contrast, IV chemotherapy activity increased by 52.1% for new courses commenced and by 62% for total IV chemotherapy attendances. Oral anticancer drug prescriptions rose by 22.9% during the 5-year period.


Our study documents substantial recent increases in cancer therapy activity in terms of patient referrals and particularly IV chemotherapy and oral anticancer therapy. The data reported here could be of value in planning for future care provision.


Population data; chemotherapy; workload; radiotherapy

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ISSN: 1198-0052 (Print) ISSN: 1718-7729 (Online)