Kelowna will be the site of one of five new integrated cancer care centre programs outside the Lower Mainland thanks to a $5 million grant from the provincial government.
Health Minister Mike de Jong made the announcement Friday morning in Vancouver.
He said the successful InspireHealth program will be introduced here, as well as in Victoria, Abbotsford and Prince George. There will also be a virtual program for rural areas of the province that do not have a cancer treatment centre.
The program, developed by InspireHealth, has operated in Vancouver since 1997 and helps patients learn about the many ways they can support their own health and recovery through support, nutrition, exercise and stress management coupled with their medical treatment.
The program, said de Jong, has shown remarkable success in better patient outcomes for those diagnosed with cancer, as well as helping to increase survival rates.
“Integrated cancer care is part of our commitment to support British Columbians make the healthier choice, the easier choice,” he said.
“Integrated cancer care provides cancer patients with access to improved physical, emotional and nutritional health, as well as new opportunities for patients to engage with practitioners about natural therapy interventions and healthy lifestyles.”
In Kelowna, the program will be offered through the existing Cancer Centre for the Southern Interior, which is located beside Kelowna General Hospital.
The program will be phased in starting in September and be fully implemented by September 2012.
Core health classes, dedicated to supporting health and healthy lifestyle changes such as proper nutrition and cooking classes, exercise, medication, yoga, shared learning groups and stress reduction classes will be offered at all integrated cancer care centres, said the government in an accompanying release.
InspireHealth is funded through a mix of physician salaries, program fees and private donations. Access to InspireHealth’s physicians and nurse practitioners is free.
The company has a number of other programs, including core health classes, and a two-day LIFE program that costs $445 for the first year of membership and $95 for annual renewals. The fee is waived for patients on Medical Service Plan premium assistance. In-house therapy practitioners, such as massage therapists, acupuncturists and naturopathic doctors, have patient-pay fees.
The B.C. Ministry of Health is providing the one-time, start-up funding of $2.5 million for the five new centres including the virtual one in Vancouver and additional annual funding of $2.5 million from the Provincial Health Services Authority for up to 12 additional medical doctors.
More than 23,000 British Columbians are expected to be diagnosed with various forms of cancer this year and an estimated 9,500 will die from the disease.
Despite that, B.C. has some of the most favourable cancer outcomes in North America.
According to the Canadian Cancer Society’s 2010 Canadian Cancer Statistics report, B.C. men and women have the lowest overall mortality rate and incidence rate for all cancers in Canada.
Currently, the most common cancers for women in B.C. are breast, lung and colorectal, while for men in B.C. it’s prostate, lung and colorectal.