CAR-T Cell Therapy

Chimeric Antigen Receptor T cell therapy, or CAR-T cell therapy, is a new treatment option for lymphoma patients. It is a type of immunotherapy that improves the effectiveness of a patient’s T-cells, a type of cell in your body that plays a central role in the immune response.  These T-cells then recognize the specific cancer cells in your body to attack and destroy them.

CAR-T is currently approved in Canada to treat relapsed/refractory Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma. It is a life-changing therapy that provides patients with hope when they are at the point where few treatment options remain available. However, did you know that CAR-T treatment is not funded in all Canadian provinces, meaning patients in certain provinces cannot receive this treatment? Currently, CAR-T therapy is only funded in Ontario and Quebec, and was approved in Alberta. Access is also limited to certain centres within each province. Furthermore, there is a limit to the number of patients that can receive this therapy on a monthly basis, causing delays in access to this treatment. This means that patients that are in the advanced stages of their lymphoma will have not only have to wait for an available spot, but will further have to travel to another province or even to the United States to receive this treatment. The financial burden for travel and accommodation to access this therapy, made even more difficult for immunocompromised patients during the COVID-19 pandemic, further complicate the patient’s treatment journey.

An article, written by Lymphoma Canada’s former Chair of the Board, highlights the inequities the Canadian lymphoma population is facing in accessing this innovative and life-changing therapy. Access to CAR-T cell therapy in British Columbia could have changed her husband’s treatment course and may have provided a different future for them. The number of patient’s that could have a different future because of this therapy, but are not receiving it due to provincial funding constraints and availability, is unacceptable.

At Lymphoma Canada, we appreciate the complexity of the decision-making process to create new infrastructure to deliver a new type of cancer therapy. However, it is obvious that current processes are not serving the needs of Canadians across the country as this treatment remains largely unavailable.

Please join us by writing to your provincial minister of health to advocate for access to CAR-T therapy. CAR-T therapy is an important step in fulfilling our vision at Lymphoma Canada of a life unlimited by lymphoma.