Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada - CCAC

Advocacy > Colorectal Cancer Patients Charter  


Canadians face significant challenges to colorectal cancer care. Access to the highest standard of care varies widely from place to place, from province to province, and between urban and rural areas.

As a society, Canadians struggle with rising treatment costs and the contradictions and implementation of the Medicare system where access to treatment and reimbursement varies from province to province. Consequently, individuals, families and caregivers are faced with the heavy emotional and financial burden that comes with a cancer diagnosis.

This Charter acknowledges the role the individual plays in negotiating the complex journey from diagnosis to treatment. It has been written by the Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada with the collaborative support of individual survivors. It is based on a similar document created by breast cancer groups whom we gratefully acknowledge.

The Colorectal Cancer Patients Charter is intended to give patients the knowledge and courage needed to obtain the best possible care and support, and a better understanding of what to expect and what to ask for throughout the colorectal cancer journey. It echoes the spirit of the underpinnings of the Canada Health Act that the best possible care must be universal across Canada, and not be denied for financial, economic, social or geographic reasons.

This Colorectal Cancer Patients Charter is not a legal document; rather it is a roadmap of principles that charts the way to improved knowledge and quality of life for the growing numbers of Canadian patients diagnosed with colorectal cancer. It is especially important in a time when the overall number of patients is increasing as our population ages, even as incremental advances in screening and treatment are contributing to better overall survival rates.

Although this document is written with colorectal cancer patients in mind, its broad brushstrokes apply generally to all cancer patients. As such, it is conceived as a universal tool, an evolving and adaptable Charter that encourages patients to seek the high quality of care they deserve through a better understanding of their individual rights.

Colorectal Cancer Patients Charter

Principles for the Care of Colorectal Cancer Patients in Canada

Whereas the Canada Health Act guarantees Canadians the right to universal, high-quality medical care delivered in a timely manner;

Colorectal Cancer Patients shall have access to:

  • Timely and appropriate care by a qualified healthcare team;
  • Optimum standards of care and best practices, including prevention, screening, diagnosis, surgery, treatment, support, follow-up, reconstruction and palliative care;
  • Comprehensive information and data about the best evidenced-based treatments and the optimum standard of care appropriate to each diagnosis, including the latest of approved treatments and medications;
  • Psychological, spiritual and emotional support (psychosocial services) and related information for patients, families and caregivers, including specialized services of psychologists, social workers, and oncology nurses or nurse nurse navigators;
  • Nationally certified, high-quality screening, diagnostic and treatment equipment operated by accredited professionals;
  • Treatment in a suitably equipped and organized practice clinic, hospital or cancer centre;
  • Comprehensive coverage of medical costs through Medicare, and where costs are not covered information on financial assistance.

As a colorectal cancer patient, you have the right to:

  • Timely access to the standard of care in the treatment of colorectal cancer;
  • Make your own informed treatment decisions (including the right to pursue alternative or complementary therapies or refuse treatment);
  • Define quality of life in your own terms;
  • Be fully informed of all treatment options and data about best evidence-based treatments as well as clinical trials even if they are not available where you are being treated;
  • Information and educational material about treatment and available services;
  • Receive information about follow-up care, and regular follow-up visits with healthcare professionals to monitor progress and discuss treatment needs;
  • Be informed of the resources available to assist you with the financial implications and costs associated with your diagnosis;
  • Receive information about clinical trials for which you are eligible;
  • Refuse to participate in clinical trials without prejudice to your treatment;
  • Privacy, confidentiality and personal data protection;
  • Review your medical records;
  • Obtain a second opinion to provide confidence in your diagnosis and treatment;
  • Lodge a complaint;
  • Freedom from discrimination because of a cancer diagnosis;
  • Be treated by a qualified, interdisciplinary healthcare team that:
    • Communicates in simple, clear and understandable language;
    • Provides translation services if your first language is not spoken by healthcare team members;
    • Provides sensitive, empathetic treatment;
    • Respects your cultural, religious and sexual orientation;
    • Modifies procedures to minimize potential harm.

If you have a problem concerning your rights or access to treatment contact the Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada.