Cancer is the leading cause of death in Canada, with nearly one in two Canadians expected to receive a diagnosis of the disease in their lifetime. As Canada’s population grows and ages, the cancer burden will remain high even though many of these cancers are preventable. As a family physician, Dr. Aisha Lofters recognizes that screening and prevention are key strengths of primary care in the fight against cancer.
Screening and prevention for cancers reduces the morbidity and mortality of cancers, however access to these healthcare services is not equitable in Canada. There are patient-level, provider-level and system-level barriers to screening – profoundly impacting the quality and quantity of life for some Canadians. Collaborating with colleagues at The Peter Gilgan Centre for Women’s Cancers, Dr. Lofters is leveraging her research expertise in the field of health equity to develop a research program focused on enhancing cancer screening and prevention interventions.
We often focus on the patient-level barriers such as their knowledge and fears about screening, but the other factors such accessibility of screening appointments, as well as how and if we provide information about these services play an important role. Dr. Lofters’ research program has the potential to reduce the number of women who are diagnosed with cancer or who are diagnosed at a late stage due to these barriers, particularly for women who experience social marginalization.
Utilizing implementation science methodologies, Dr. Lofters’ and her team are designing, testing and evaluating patient-centred cancer care interventions that can be implemented into the health system for the long-term. By finding meaningful and sustainable ways to provide everyone with information about and access to cancer screening and prevention, Dr. Lofters’ research will advance access and quality of cancer care for all.