Taking action to achieve equity
To achieve equity in lung cancer outcomes, significant action is needed at the policy and system levels to ensure underserved communities can access advances in cancer prevention, diagnosis and care. To do this, health care services and supports along the cancer continuum—from prevention to diagnosis and treatment to survivorship—need to be specifically designed from the start to meet the needs of underserved communities.
Culturally appropriate lung cancer screening and smoking cessation support
Moving forward, cancer agencies and programs should accomplish the following goals by working with governments and organizations that represent underserved communities:
- Ensure that culturally appropriate smoking cessation supports are available for underserved communities. Evidence-based smoking cessation programs, which incorporate culturally safe approaches and include subsidized or free nicotine replacement therapies and other stop-smoking medications, are essential to prevent lung cancer and other cancers in the first place.
- Plan and implement an organized lung cancer screening program, designing it to ensure that the needs of underserved populations—people with lower incomes, people who live in rural and remote communities, and First Nations, Inuit and Métis—are being addressed. It is important to focus on specific approaches to make these programs more accessible.
- Provide smoking cessation supports, including culturally appropriate supports, as part of organized lung cancer screening programs. This would further prevent lung cancer deaths and significantly improve the cost-effectiveness of lung cancer screening.
More and better data are needed
This report highlights inequities in lung cancer prevention, care and outcomes for people with low income and people who live in rural and remote communities. However, more and better data are needed to gain a fuller picture of the state of health equity in Canada.
Canada’s health system leaders, decision-makers and data custodians, should do the following:
- Collaborate with organizations that represent underserved groups to ensure
- the approach to indicator development, data collection and reporting is co-created with these groups
- analyses and reports highlight the social determinants of health, the interconnectedness of social, economic and environmental factors and their impact on health and well-being.
- Improve timely access to health, socioeconomic and environmental data and record linkages for research and health system innovation (e.g. timely access to administrative and survey data linkage through the Social Data Linkage Environment at Statistics Canada).
- Develop and implement standardized and validated identifiers of race and ethnicity in all population and healthcare datasets to enhance data collection and linkage, and improve the availability of data to better understand the state of health equity in Canada.
- Support national and regional First Nations, Inuit and Métis governments and organizations to advance First Nations, Inuit and Métis-governed research and data systems.
These actions will provide insight into the inequities and barriers that exist in preventing lung cancer and accessing treatment. Understanding and eliminating these inequities and barriers will help the health care system deliver better services and care designed to meet the specific needs of underserved groups.
As part of implementing the Canadian Strategy for Cancer Control, in which equity is both a priority and an overriding value embedded in all recommended actions, the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer will work with partners across the country to develop and implement plans that eliminate barriers and support people in getting the care that they need. This will include contributing to the advancement of the calls to action outlined in this report.