Rural cancer patients are accessing care, treatment and support closer to home thanks to the Community Oncology Program of Saskatchewan (COPS).
Registered Nurse Crystal Kuras assists patient Richard Renaud at the Community Oncology Program of Saskatchewan (COPS) centre in Tisdale.
COPS is a program of the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency (SCA) coordinated by the Saskatoon Cancer Centre and the Allan Blair Cancer Centre in Regina in partnership with 16 COPS centres located in Estevan, Humboldt, Kindersley, Lloydminster, Meadow Lake, Melfort, Melville, Moose Jaw, Moosomin, Nipawin, North Battleford, Prince Albert, Swift Current, Tisdale, Weyburn, and Yorkton. With the exception of new drugs requiring patient monitoring for adverse reactions and lower volume drugs delivered in limited locations to prevent waste, most chemotherapy treatments are available at COPS centres.
Demand has grown significantly, says Melfort nurse Penny Anderson, who has been with the COPS program since its pilot in 1996. In 2018-2019 there were 13,514 treatment visits at COPS centres across the province, 12 per cent more than the previous year. Patients saved 4,283,083 kilometres of travel by having access to their treatments closer to home.
“Cancer patients are often feeling unwell and coping with side effects,” Anderson said. “COPS lessens the stress and expense for patients and families by providing treatments closer to home and loved ones.”