Breast cancer patients in Nova Scotia face longer wait times for chemotherapy than women in the rest of Canada, but chaotic record keeping means nobody knows exactly how bad it is.


A report released yesterday by the Canadian Breast Cancer Network shows that Nova Scotians wait 6.9 weeks from detection of breast cancer to therapy and then 12.6 weeks to start chemo. In B.C., the median wait time for chemo is three days — but the records don’t say three days from when.
Dianne Eakins says that’s the real problem.


“There are no national benchmarks,” said Eakins, speaking for the network. She said provincial cancer agencies need to agree on a definition for wait times and report them in a standardized method. “If somebody enters the system with a mammogram that is abnormal, the tracking of the information has to be the same so that they can report the wait times.”


Once there is a standard, experts can detect problems and think about solutions.


“Anecdotally, people from Nova Scotia say wait times are a problem,” said Eakins. “But anecdotal is not good enough – we need the actual information.”