2022-23 Annual report

Good cancer care depends on good cancer data and research

Data and research play critical roles in advancing the Canadian Strategy for Cancer Control. When healthcare professionals, researchers and policymakers have access to high-quality information, they can work together to improve cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment and the patient experience – and ultimately reduce the burden of this disease.

However, data and research face inherent challenges; differences in how information is collected and analyzed across provinces and territories can make it challenging to benchmark quality and compare trends.

Although Canada has some of the best population-based health data in the world, gaps in its consistency and availability have existed for many years. The COVID-19 pandemic exposed this problem starkly at a time when policymakers needed to access timely, comprehensive data to inform their decision making.

Canada’s cancer system needs high-quality data and research to support the best possible outcomes for people affected by cancer.

How partners are solving the challenge

To support the federal government’s pan-Canadian health data strategy for collecting, analyzing and sharing health data across Canada, the Partnership has worked closely with the Canadian Cancer Society, provincial and territorial cancer agencies and programs, the Canadian Association of Provincial Cancer Agencies, First Nations, Inuit and Métis partners and other partners to develop the pan-Canadian Cancer Data Strategy.

The Partnership is a member and funder of the Canadian Cancer Research Alliance (CCRA), a network of organizations that fund cancer research in Canada. CCRA aims to promote cooperation and coordination among cancer research funding agencies so that research investments can have the greatest possible impact on cancer prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care.

We are also making it easier for partners to report on progress toward the Canadian Strategy for Cancer Control’s eight priorities, and we are supporting equitable access to clinical trials.

What we achieved this year

Stewarding the pan-Canadian Cancer Data Strategy

The Partnership worked jointly with the Canadian Cancer Society and consulted widely with other provincial and federal partners on how best to improve data across Canada. Together, we identified a set of data improvement priorities for policymakers, data stewards, researchers and other stakeholders, developed a theoretical framework for partners to guide improvements in cancer data and emphasized the importance of First Nations, Inuit and Métis data sovereignty.

Implementation plans are now underway to support timelier, more comprehensive and more accessible cancer data to support decision making.

Reporting on the Strategy’s progress

Through the Partnership’s website, the provinces and territories are reporting on progress they have made toward the Canadian Strategy for Cancer Control. We have worked closely with First Nations, Inuit and Métis partners, advisors, Elders and Knowledge Keepers to co-create the first round of relevant and meaningful indicator concepts for First Nations, Inuit and Métis-specific priorities six, seven and eight.

Clinical trials for younger patients

The Canadian Cancer Clinical Trials Network (3CTN) is a pan-Canadian initiative to improve recruitment to investigator-driven clinical trials and to improve trial efficiency. The Partnership supported two projects this year to help adolescents and young adults access clinical trials:

  • A clinical trial at the University of British Columbia is investigating supportive care for adolescents and young adults with advanced or incurable cancer.
  • A trial at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto is looking into molecular classification of primary central nervous system tumours for these age groups.

Fifteen years of investment

perspective on funding and research in Canada

CCRA released a landmark report this year called Fifteen Years of Investment in Cancer Research in Canada, 2005–2019. The report is based on a deep analysis of cancer research funding and research output in Canada. It presents information on the trends and patterns of cancer research funding over 15 years, including funding sources and how funds are distributed across different areas of cancer research.

The report also:

  • Gives insights into Canada’s cancer research ecosystem, such as its strengths and areas that could improve
  • Identifies key gaps and opportunities for future research
  • Highlights the importance of collaboration and partnerships in advancing cancer research
  • Supports the need for sustained support of trainees

Involving patients in research

The Partnership is one of many CCRA members that continues to support the Patient Involvement in Cancer Research Program (PIP), which gives patient partners and the scientific community an opportunity to learn from each other.

PIP was the first ever patient group to solely adjudicate and award a cancer research grant. With support from the Partnership, the patient partners wrote a case study about their experience that was published in the Journal of Patient Experience.