Within British Columbia, the newest bone-targeting agent was recently listed on its formulary for men and women with advanced prostate and breast cancer that has spread to their bones, who are considered palliative. While the Canadian Cancer Survivor Network thinks that this is good news for these patients and a positive step forward, other men and women with advanced prostate and breast cancer that has spread to their bones, who are not palliative, are still being denied access to bone-targeted treatments, including the newest class of treatments, at the appropriate time in therapy.
When cancer has spread, or metastasised, to their bones, patients are at risk of developing serious, debilitating complications such as fractures, spinal cord compression or the need for surgery or radiation. These complications can cause mobility issues, disability, hospitalization and even death.
To reduce the risk of developing bone complications, patients with advanced breast and prostate cancer need to receive a bone-modifying agent at the earliest confirmation of metastases. However, in most cases patients in B.C. must wait until they are considered palliative, or have six months to live, before the provincial government will cover treatment to prevent complications.
We believe that B.C. patients deserve the same level of evidence-based care that patients in other provinces receive.
The provincial government must allow patients access to the most appropriate bone-targeting treatment at the earliest confirmation that the cancer has spread to the bones, when the agent can be the most helpful, to prevent debilitating complications.
If you would like to assist us in our efforts to help all men and women with advanced prostate and breast cancer receive the same evidence-based care as patients in other provinces, please contact me at Jmanthorne@survivornet.ca.
Together we can make a difference.