Burnaby Division explores screening for cancer, metabolic conditions for unattached patients

Few things are as difficult to hear as a cancer diagnosis. But hearing that it could’ve been caught earlier with proper testing can be far worse. This is exactly what physicians out of Burnaby are hoping to prevent. The Improving Access to Screening for Early Detection of Metabolic Conditions and Cancers for Unattached Patients project is currently conducting an Expression of Interest (EOI) to explore this issue and determine how physicians and other health care professionals can collaborate to boost the quality of cancer care for unattached patients.

Approved in early 2024, the team developed this project with the frightening reality of being an unattached patient in mind. Currently, individuals who are not attached to a primary care provider have limited access to screening tests that can detect developing health conditions, diabetes or kidney function loss, or cancers. Limited access to these tests leads to delayed treatment, poorer health outcomes, and increased health care costs. The project team hopes that, through their EOI and eventually through a fully funded project, they can improve equitable access to preventative primary care for Burnaby’s attached patient population.

“This project is aimed at prioritizing those patients who do not have family doctors to order these investigations for them—with the hope of detecting disease earlier,” explained Dr Vivian Liu, a Burnaby-based family physician and co-physician lead of the project.

The project is currently in the early stages of planning and is conducting a needs assessment. Through this, they hope to identify the key barriers for unattached patients and develop a full project aimed at filling that gap. The team hopes that, after the completion of the EOI and project (if selected for funding), unattached patients in Burnaby will feel empowered and supported to access screening tests for metabolic conditions and cancers, and know that the results of these tests will always be followed up on.

“Success would mean that, out of Burnaby’s unattached patient population, early disease can be identified in certain percentages and can be managed appropriately by the patient’s care team,” says Dr Graham Segal, family physician and clinical pathologist, and co-physician lead of the project.

The team aims to complete their EOI within 2024 and subsequently present their findings to the Shared Care Committee for full project funding and support.

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