Access to cancer screening for First Nations

Learn about the issues around access to cancer screening for First Nations and ways to improve access in this 2009 report

This foundational report gives a cross-Canada survey of available cancer-screening programs and supporting services, from the perspectives of both First Nations peoples and the health care providers who provide care to First Nations peoples.

Cancer rates are rising among First Nations in Canada. Also, because they are diagnosed at later stages of their cancer, survival rates tend to be worse. Early detection of cancer through screening has shown to effectively reduce the rates of cervical, breast, and colorectal cancers as well as the numbers of resulting deaths.

When combined with preventive measures, screening may help improve cancer rates for current and future generations of First Nations. Most provinces and territories now offer organized screening programs, and more are being introduced. However, participation in screening is lower for First Nations peoples than for non-Indigenous people in nearly all areas of Canada.

This report’s information was sourced from publications and from interviews with individuals knowledgeable about the system at the national and regional levels. An examination of peer-reviewed and ‘gray’ literature gave context and statistics to frame the issues. The interviews added real-life portraits of peoples’ experiences. Interviewees included 30 individuals responsible for screening programs at the regional, provincial and territorial, and national levels, as well as health workers from First Nations communities.

Downloadable content