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Topic: Waiting time for lumpectomy in Canada

Forum: Just Diagnosed — Discuss next steps, options, and resources.

Posted on: Mar 10, 2010 02:33PM

danielaes wrote:

I was diagnosed on February 19 with IDC and DCIS 4cm mass. Is ER and PR possitive and her 2 negative. I have been waiting for lumpectomy date and from doc's office they just told me that it want be until May. 3 months from my diagnosis. I'm very upset and afraid that such a long waiting time could further complicate things. I called another surgeon and they told me that their waiting time is also until May or after.

Do somebody has any idea if there is any surgeon in Vancouver bc that has shorter waiting lists?

also, would appreciate any input about how much worse it can get with sucha long waiting time.

I'm 45 y/o

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Mar 10, 2010 02:46PM somanywomen wrote:

No matter where we live, it seems we have to push to get dignified respectful healthcare.....That seems way to long, I had surgery one month from diagnosis....Keep pushing to see if you can find an earlier date...They should not make you wait that long mentally or physically.....I think with somanywomen daily being diagnosed that there should be Breast Cancer Treatment Centers where you check in and are given all the info that we need to make the nowin choices and be treated as fast as possible......Good luck to you......

“There must be some way out of here,” said the joker to the thief, “There’s too much confusion, I can’t get no relief."....All Along the Watchtower..Bob Dylan

Dx 9/28/2009, IDC, 1cm, Stage I, Grade 2, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR+
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Mar 10, 2010 03:14PM Beesie wrote:

Hopefully someone from Vancouver will answer soon and have some suggestions for you but without question your waiting time is unusual.  I'm in Toronto.  After my needle biopsy I needed to have an excisional biopsy, which is the same surgery as a lumpectomy.  It was scheduled for the following week. After that, I needed to have a mastectomy. If I hadn't decided to change surgeons, I could have had my mastectomy within a couple of weeks.  I know that in some areas of the country waiting times are longer but I wouldn't expect the times to be so long in Vancouver.

Are you dealing with a surgeon who specializes in breast cancer, or with a general surgeon?  You might have better luck with a specialist.   And the following website might help:

http://www.health.gov.bc.ca/waitlist/#

This site indicates that there is no wait time for urgent surgeries, so obviously your doctor has not classified your surgery as being urgent.  If you click on the bubble that says "All other procedures" and then click on "general surgery" you will get a list of BC locations/hospitals.  Click on the hospital that you are at and you can see the wait times for each surgeon.  It appears that some surgeons and some hospitals have longer wait times but there also appear to be many that have wait times in the 2 - 5 week range.

Dx 9/15/05, DCIS-MI, 6cm+ Gr3 DCIS w/IDC microinvasion, Stage I, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR- “No power so effectually robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear.” Edmund Burke

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Mar 10, 2010 03:35PM danielaes wrote:

Hi Bessy,

I checked the website and my surgeon appers like having a 2-3 weeks waitlist, it is provably an average so it doesn't really reflect much. I did called another surgeon and got the same response and eve longer waiting time. I'm truly worried, I have some other numbers to call and two women who had their surgeries here in Vancouver, I hope that they have some info about a surgeon that is not so busy. The main problem here are the o.r's, o.r. nurses etc. cuts to the health system are being done all the time. 

Dx 2/18/2010, IDC, 6cm+, Grade 2, 2/15 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Mar 10, 2010 03:44PM terri01 wrote:

I am so sorry to hear you must wait that long.  I would just be a pest.  this is why National Health Care doesn't work.  It is the people who suffer.  National Health Care system taxes the system, and as you said continuous cuts.  I don't know how the health care system over there really works, I do know my physician is from Canada, she now practices medicine here.  I am sure there is an apparent reason why.  I would just keep trying to get in, maybe you will find a loop hole somewhere.  It is a shame you have to go through this during such an emotional time.  I had a suspicious Mammo was in having a biopsy in 4 days.  Time is critical, that is insane to make you wait so long.  Good luck, Hugs.  Keep us informed

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Mar 10, 2010 04:15PM danielaes wrote:

Hi Terri,

Don't get me wrong, I'm thankful for the public health system, I haven't been working a lot and I'm so relieved that I don't have to worry about paying for expensive treatments or not get mediacl help if I can't afford it.  I'm frustrated and really scared about the long waiting. I will follow your advice and keep insisting, calling, nugging etc.Hope I will have some results. 

Thanks for your wishes and I will keep you posted,

Daniela

Dx 2/18/2010, IDC, 6cm+, Grade 2, 2/15 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Mar 10, 2010 04:24PM vivre wrote:

Daniela, while you wait for surgery, there is a lot you can do to be proactive. There are foods you can eat such as mushrooms, broccoli and sprouts that have shown to stop tumors from growing. Cut out the sugar and dairy which seems to aggravate cancer and take supplements such as curcumin and vit D that are also beneficial. Use the time to really educate yourself on treatment protocols, so you can better understand your treatment options. Knowlege is power. It will also be reassuring and keep you from spending the nxt 2 months fretting constantly. You might even envision your body attacking your tumor. I am not saying you can cure yourself, I am just saying it is worth a try to do something besides just wait. God bless.

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Mar 10, 2010 04:30PM danielaes wrote:

Thank you so much, I will do it. Do you know of a website to look for different foods that are supposed to fight or stop tumors? I heard that vitamin C is also very helpfu. Wasn't aware of the sugar and dairy, giving up the sugar it's not easyFrown.  Another question, wonder if you know if being ER, PR possitive is better to cut the soy products? I'm lactose intolerant and drink only soy milk. I heard that soy imitates female hormone behaviour.

Dx 2/18/2010, IDC, 6cm+, Grade 2, 2/15 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Mar 10, 2010 04:32PM Beesie wrote:

terri, the reason your physican practices in the U.S. now is probably because she can rake in the big bucks.  Canadian doctors are well paid but it's nothing like what they can earn in the U.S..  Or maybe she has personal reasons for moving to the U.S. (family, relationship, etc.).  Just so you know, while it's easy to find Canadian doctors in the U.S, there are also lots of stories about Canadian doctors who went to the U.S. to practice who end up returning to Canada because they get fed up with the administration and approvals that tie up the U.S. system.  In Canada doctors spend their time treating patients, not filling out insurance forms or calling insurance companies to protest on behalf of their patients.  By the way, there are also U.S. doctors who come to practice in Canada for the same reason. 

This thread was started to ask about wait times. I've seen lots of posts from women in the U.S. who've complained about their wait times.  So let's not turn this into more than it is and let's not use this as an excuse to slam the Canadian system.  As you've said, "I don't know how the health care system over there really works", so it might be better then to not comment about it.

Daniela, it seems that the problem may be that your surgeon hasn't given your surgery a high enough priority.  The way that surgeons work here, they always leave open a few operating room slots just in case they need to fit in an emergency surgery.  If there are no emergencies, then someone else gets moved into that slot.  If your surgeon has an average wait time of 2-3 weeks but is quoting you several months, you need to find out why your surgery is not being given the priority it deserves. 

Dx 9/15/05, DCIS-MI, 6cm+ Gr3 DCIS w/IDC microinvasion, Stage I, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR- “No power so effectually robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear.” Edmund Burke

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Mar 10, 2010 04:35PM JO-5 wrote:

DANIELAES,

There are lots of different ideas about soy --- but if I were you I would err on the side of safety. My Dr. told me to avoid as much soy and flax as possible because I was ER+PR+. You can get lactose free milk or take a lactaid pill. I am also lactose intolerant.

I hope you can find a surgeon before May. Just the stress is bad enough. Good luck and God bless!

JO

dx.04 IDC, tumor 1.4 cm, stage 1, grade 3, lumpectomy w/clear margins, 0/16 nodes, ER+/ PR+ over 90%, HER2 negative, 35 rads w/3 boosts, Arimidex 5 yrs.

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Mar 10, 2010 04:41PM Mantra wrote:

I'm from a small town and waited a couple of weeks for my surgery. I was grade 3 DCIS and she bumped a non cancer patient for me. She also bumped another non cancer patient for my second surgery.

Dx 7/10/2009, DCIS, <1cm, Stage 0, Grade 3, 0/3 nodes, ER-/PR-
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Mar 10, 2010 04:45PM danielaes wrote:

I wonder if the way is to keep calling and nugging. I think that i was too calm when I saw her and didn't complain when she said that I will have to wait until April. The main problem is that I can't even get through to her and always talk only with the secretary. Does any of you have some strategies to get bumped up? my tumor is 4 cm idc and dcis, it sounds to me urgent enough.

Dx 2/18/2010, IDC, 6cm+, Grade 2, 2/15 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Mar 10, 2010 05:00PM, edited Mar 10, 2010 05:01PM by JO-5

4 cm sounds serious enough to me. In your original post you said surgery in May --- and in the latest you said  April. April is still a wait but not as bad as May. Did you get it moved up or did I miss something?

JO

dx.04 IDC, tumor 1.4 cm, stage 1, grade 3, lumpectomy w/clear margins, 0/16 nodes, ER+/ PR+ over 90%, HER2 negative, 35 rads w/3 boosts, Arimidex 5 yrs.

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Mar 10, 2010 05:04PM, edited Mar 10, 2010 05:05PM by Beesie

I'm confused as to why your surgeon has not prioritized your surgery.  Is she a breast specialist?

As for dealing with your surgeon, I think it's very important that you voice your concerns about the scheduling. They aren't going to move up your surgery date if you haven't complained about the date that you have.  Call her secretary and tell her that you are very concerned and upset about the delay and ask what can be done to get you into surgery sooner. Also, offer that you are available to go into surgery at any time.  What you want is for your name to be on the top of the list if there is a cancellation.  You also can be very direct and ask why a cancer surgery is not being given a higher priority.  It would be very interesting to hear the answer to that question.

Dx 9/15/05, DCIS-MI, 6cm+ Gr3 DCIS w/IDC microinvasion, Stage I, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR- “No power so effectually robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear.” Edmund Burke

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Mar 10, 2010 05:21PM JO-5 wrote:

Yes, Sherri, she sent me one too. She said the original time was April and when she called to make the appointment April was already full and it will be May!

Doggone it anyhow.

JO

dx.04 IDC, tumor 1.4 cm, stage 1, grade 3, lumpectomy w/clear margins, 0/16 nodes, ER+/ PR+ over 90%, HER2 negative, 35 rads w/3 boosts, Arimidex 5 yrs.

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Mar 10, 2010 05:26PM Leah_S wrote:

Sometimes it might be which surgeon you use. The first surgeon I saw wasn't able to give me a date sooner than 2 - 2 1/2 months. The next surgeon had me in surgery 2 weeks after our first consult.

This was not in Canada but in Israel. Also socialized medicine but as you see the same system, different schedules.

Leah

Dx 11/3/2008, IDC, 1cm, Stage IV, Grade 3, 6/17 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Mar 10, 2010 05:59PM pip57 wrote:

 This certainly seems likes someone isn't  paying attention at the booking end of things.    This is when you need to pull out the tough personality and, very nicely, tell them that the time period is unacceptable to you.  It is best to do it in person.  It is too easy to brush you off if you are just a voice on the phone.  

Maybe question how much surgery time your surgeon is alloted.  Perhaps he just doesn't have the OR available as often.  However, that would make me wonder why! 

PIP - multi focal, FEC100/Tax, rads, dble mast with no recon, ooph/hyst, arimidex

Dx 2/1/2007, IDC, Stage IIIb, Grade 2, 9/16 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Mar 10, 2010 06:19PM Sugar77 wrote:

That does seem like a long wait.  My lumpectomy was classifed as "non cancer" surgery and I got it within one week of my biospy results. The surgeon had it booked even before he met with me. Once the path report came in showing DCIS and IDC, I then needed a second surgery to check lymph nodes. I got the path results on a Tuesday and had the surgery on Friday of the same week. Mine was a general surgeon.  That said, the woman who sits next to me at work had to wait almost two months for an excisional biopsy so I think it depends on the hospital and how much OR time the surgeon is alotted. All the best in your journey.  

TC x 4, started 12/07/09, finished 02/08/10

Dx 10/27/2009, IDC, <1cm, Stage I, Grade 3, 0/2 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2-
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Mar 10, 2010 06:33PM, edited Mar 11, 2010 01:14AM by barbe1958

Good point Sugar, is Danielaes waiting for a breast/plastic or general surgeon? I had a general surgeon and my surgeries were very fast. My masts were done 6 days after diagnosis.

Religion is for people who are afraid of hell, spirituality is for people who have already been there. (Lakota Nation)

Dx 12/10/2008
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Mar 10, 2010 06:58PM terri01 wrote:

Beesie,

It was not my intent to bash the national health care system. I apologize for hitting a nerve of yours, it certainly was not my intent. No, I am definitely not for national health care, but it is not the purpose of this thread to address that here.  My apologies.  I am feeling much frustration on how long danielaes has to wait.  That is incredible.  I have never had heard of anyone in the US waiting that long.  Prompt attention and treatment is crucial.   

Danielaes, I would listen to the great advice from vivre.  If you must wait this ridiculous amount of time, use the time wisely to educate yourself, so when the treatment phase comes, you will be confident in making informed decisions. KNOWLEDGE IS POWER.  And yes, nutrition is so important, there are many books out there that address just that nutrition and cancer.

God Bless, Hugs,

Terri 

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Mar 10, 2010 07:22PM lexislove wrote:

Im in Vancouver.

I had my surgery in March 2008, I didnt have to wait any crazy amount of time...

But, I would not wait 3 months now. Im aware of the surgery room shortage right now. I just booked my ooph appointment surgery yesterday. It is not an emergency, granted. But its scheduled for July 22nd. So, a bit of a wait too.

I understand the whole emergency thing...but isnt having a cancerous tumor growing inside you an emergency? Undecided I would think so. Have you met with an oncologist? I would get my GP, onc or surgeon(s) on the phone.

Cry if you have to. Throw an absolute fit. Make a lot of noise...do what it takes.

Dx:2007, 2B, Triple+, June 2008:Lupron,Zometa,Tamox.Jan 2010:Poor metabolizer of Tamox switch to Femara.Feb 2010: cyp2d6 test reliable? Back to Tamox. Ooph soon.

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Mar 10, 2010 08:20PM Kathy044 wrote:

I wonder if there is a surgical backup now due to the need to keep health resources free for emergencies during the Olympics?

 Anyway I had a lumpectomy at the Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster less than two weeks after getting my biopsy results last Oct, which was approx five weeks after the abnormal screening mammogram. Now I believe there is a fast track program in place in BC (British Columbia) to move from suspicious findings to diagnosis much faster, and if so it might make the wait time for surgery seem to be longer. 

Dx 10/2009, ILC, Stage IIa, 1/15 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-Surgery Lumpectomy (Right)Chemotherapy Hormonal Therapy ArimidexRadiation Therapy 05/01/2010 External
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Mar 10, 2010 08:36PM maryannecb wrote:

I think standard of care would have you wait les than a month...you may have a patient advocate/navigator...most large cities do who can help you.

Fists up!

Dx 9/20/2005, IDC, 6cm+, Stage IIIa, Grade 2, 2/14 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2+
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Mar 10, 2010 08:39PM pickle wrote:

Danielaes; The other ladies are making a good point. Keep on top of this and keep calling. I would get your General Physician to contact the surgeon directly.

I live in Alberta and the protocol for breast surgery here is two weeks from the time of diagnosis. My breast surgeon is the lead physician on the Northern Alberta Breast Cancer Board and the communication and navigation support through the system is amazing. It is an excellent model that perhaps is already duplicated in other provinces.

Good Luck Daniel and remember that the squeaky wheel gets the grease!

Dx
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Mar 11, 2010 02:32AM, edited Mar 11, 2010 02:46AM by Jenna1961

Danielaes; what hospital are you supposed to go to for the lumpectomy? Did you contact anyone at the BC Cancer Agency?

I waited a little less than a month for a mastectomy at the UBC hospital, which is probably the one with longest wait lists in Vancouver.

As Kathy said, Vancouver also has four rapid-access breast cancer clinics for women from across the Lower Mainland.

June 2009: DCIS 6cm+ ER+ with microinv; 1/15 nodes micromet ER- PR- HER2+; Left Mast 7/2009 Chemo Sep 09: 4xAC + 4xTH + H full year

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Mar 12, 2010 07:08PM LINDAGARSIDE wrote:

I live in British Columbia (Victoria on Vancouver Island) and from the date of diagnosis to the date of my surgery it was 23 days.  My surgeon was apologetic and said she would have liked to do it sooner but I was diagnosed December 17th and there are a lot of hospital staff off with Christmas and New Years.  Even so, they got me in for an urgent MRI before my surgery. 

I'm having a hard time understanding and accepting that you have to wait this long!  I would be camped out on the doorstep of the surgeon!  Call the breast health care nurses and ask who is the best surgeon for breast cancer in your area and see who they recommend.  I think you are going to have to be real pushy here.  If all else fails, write to the minister of health and suggest you will be talking to the media if you don't get a date for your surgery (with a qualified surgeon) immediately!!

Linda

Dx 12/17/2009, IDC, 1cm, Stage I, Grade 1, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Mar 12, 2010 07:24PM Oksana wrote:

 My lumpectomy was done in the BCCA, 2 weeks after the first appointment with the surgeon. It was lucky, they had an openning on November 13 (Friday 13th) :) Otherwise I would have till end of December (about 2 month).

Daniela, I live in Vancouver and a little bit ahead of you in treatment. You can contact me if you have questions.

Oxana

Dx 10/2009, IDC, 2cm, Stage II, Grade 2, 1/19 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Mar 12, 2010 08:03PM danielaes wrote:

Hi,

Still waiting...and super frustrated. I went yesterday to see my family doc, she was surprised and worried about such a long waiting for my surgery, said  that she will call the surgeon and if she can't de the surgery earlier she will call around to find another surgeon who has an earlier date. I have been waiting for a call from my doc and called a few times her office, finally she told me that she called the suregeon when the office was laready closed!!??? anyway... no answers until Monday, another long weekend of waiting. Frown

Dx 2/18/2010, IDC, 6cm+, Grade 2, 2/15 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Mar 12, 2010 08:08PM danielaes wrote:

Hi Oxana,

Thank you, I will contact you for sure. I do have a lot of questions trying to navigate through the health system. I have been living in Canada for 5 years but is the first time that I really need to deal more intensively with it. My doc. did look worried and determined to get me an earlier surgery date, I'm just getting impatient,  my diagnosis was on Feb. 18 and I saw the surgeon on March 2nd. 

Dx 2/18/2010, IDC, 6cm+, Grade 2, 2/15 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Mar 12, 2010 08:22PM Kyta wrote:

Hi Daniela

I'm glad you called your family doc...let her do the calling/advocating for you. Hoping she can get the surgeon to operate earlier or find another surgeon for you. 3 months is way too long to wait.

Re your question about how much worse can it get with such a long waiting time...I'm not a doctor, but from what I've read, cancer is often growing for many years before it's found, so waiting a bit for surgery probably won't make a huge difference in the big scheme of things, but it's the emotional/psychological effect that really matters. Once you find out you have cancer, you just want it out as soon as possible....the waiting at the beginning of this journey is really tough.

Hoping you get some good news this week.

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Mar 12, 2010 10:28PM danielaes wrote:

Thank you!

Dx 2/18/2010, IDC, 6cm+, Grade 2, 2/15 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-

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