Wait times for prostate cancer treatment and patient perceptions of care in Canada: a mixed-methods report

K. Tran, C. Sandoval, R. Rahal, G. Porter, R. Siemens, J. Hernandez, S. Fung, C. Louzado, J Liu, H. Bryant



Access to cancer care is a significant concern for Canadians. Prolonged delays between cancer diagnosis and treatment have been associated with anxiety, stress, and perceived powerlessness for patients and their family members. Longer wait times can also be associated with poorer prognosis, although the evidence is inconclusive. Here, we report national wait times for radiation therapy and surgery for localized prostate cancer (pca) and the effect of wait time on patient perceptions of their care.


Treatment wait times showed substantial interprovincial variation. The longest 90th percentile wait times for radiation therapy and surgery were, respectively, 40 days and 105 days. In all provinces, waits for radiation therapy were longer for pca patients than for patients with breast, colorectal, or lung cancer.

In the focus groups and interviews conducted with 47 men treated for pca, many participants did not perceive that wait times for treatment were prolonged. Those who experienced delays between diagnosis and treatment voiced issues with a lack of communication about when they would receive treatment and a lack of support or information to make an informed decision about treatment. Minimizing treatment delays was an aspect of the cancer journey that participants would like to change because of the stress it caused.


Although wait time statistics are useful, a review of cancer control in Canada cannot be considered complete unless an effort is made to give voice to the experiences of individuals with cancer. The findings presented here are intended to provide a snapshot of national care delivery for localized pca and to identify opportunities for improvement in clinical practice.


Prostate cancer; treatment; surgery; radiation therapy; access to health care; qualitative research

Full Text:


DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3747/co.22.2795

Copyright © 2019 Multimed Inc.
ISSN: 1198-0052 (Print) ISSN: 1718-7729 (Online)