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Lisa Priest took your questions

Globe and Mail Update

"A national vision for combatting the scourge of cancer and its victims of geography who receive unequal care will move a step closer [today] when the Prime Minister announces the government is getting out of the business," Lisa Priest writes on the front page of today's Globe.

"The Canadian Strategy for Cancer Control aims to do what nothing else in this country ever has: reduce the burden of cancer by preventing disease, detecting it early and ensuring those stricken by it receive the best possible care, regardless of where they live," Ms. Priest adds.

"Prime Minister Stephen Harper and federal Health Minister Tony Clement will announce in a Montreal hospital that the strategy will become a non-profit, arm's-length agency, The Globe and Mail has learned.

"By doing that, the federal government will effectively erase the suspicions of cancer doctors, administrators, advocates and patients alike who are worried that big government would mire the strategy in bureaucracy and doom it to failure."

Today's announcement comes on the same day that Ms. Priest's five-part series "Cancer: Our national shame" concludes in The Globe. The series examines the policy failures that have lead to gaps in our health care system, a system that often fails those who need it when they need it most.

The "national shame" series, along with other stories, photographs, audio, discussions, interactive graphics and much more can be found in our special report on cancer.

Ms. Priest was online earlier to take your questions about our health care system and its role in fighting cancer. You will find the questions and answers at the bottom of this document.

Ms. Priest has been a journalist for almost two decades. She has spent 15 years writing about the health care system and, in particular, focuses on patient access to it.

The Globe and Mail won this year's Michener Award for public-service journalism for Ms. Priest's coverage of cancer care. Those stories changed the way cancer patients are treated, pushing politicians to increase access to the drug Herceptin and to impose tougher standards on screening machines.

Editor's Note: globeandmail.com editors will read and allow or reject each question/comment. Comments/questions may be edited for length, clarity or relevance. HTML is not allowed. We will not publish questions/comments that include personal attacks on Globe journalists, other participants in these discussions, questions/comments that make false or unsubstantiated allegations, that purport to quote people or reports where the purported quote or fact cannot be easily verified, or questions/comments that include vulgar language or libellous statements. Preference will be given to readers who submit questions/comments using their full name and home town, rather than a pseudonym.

Rasha Mourtada, globeandmail.com: Welcome, Lisa, and thank you for being with us today to take questions from globeandmail.com readers. In your five-part series, Cancer: Our National Shame, you take a look at how government policy and our health-care system affect those with cancer in our country. Today, as you wrote for The Globe, the government is announcing its plans to make the Canadian Strategy for Cancer Control a non-profit, arm's length agency. What's your reaction to that news and how do you see it affecting Canadians?

Lisa Priest: I think the news that the federal government has announced the Canadian Strategy for Cancer Control is going to be arm's length from government is a very positive move. There was concern that it would be part of big government - something that worried cancer researchers, doctors, patients, administrators and advocates alike. Certainly, there has to be a national vision on how to tackle this disease, how to screen for certain cancers, provide prompt diagnosis, treatment and ultimately access the inequities cancer patients face in Canada today.

Emma Hawthorne, Canada: I wish to congratulate you on your wonderful series. What do you think it would take for PET scanner use to be maximized with round-the-clock usage?

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