Creating a Canadian Indigenous Research Network Against Cancer to Address Indigenous Cancer Disparities

JCO Glob Oncol. 2020 Feb:6:92-98. doi: 10.1200/JGO.19.00049.


Purpose: In Canada, indigenous peoples' cancer rates have increased, but cancer screening rates tend to be lower. When coupled with poor cancer prognosis, treatment barriers, and inaccessible health care, indigenous patients with cancer experience many unmet needs. Further complicating their journey is a multijurisdictional system that complicates cancer control services, treatments, patient supports, and cancer surveillance. To address these issues, the Canadian Indigenous Research Network Against Cancer (CIRNAC) was developed. This article describes the forerunners and consultative process that created the network and the consensus model developed to ground this network with, by, and for indigenous peoples.

Methods: A consultative workshop was held to (1) establish and increase network membership, (2) enhance partnerships with indigenous communities and other researchers, and (3) develop an indigenous-led research program, new funding, and related initiatives.

Results: Participants viewed the CIRNAC as a reflective parallel network led by indigenous peoples that would identify research priorities within Canada, assess how these priorities align with indigenous patients' cancer care and research needs, and cross-check to see if these priorities align with each other. The network would also advocate for indigenous elders/knowledge holders and community grassroot processes to drive research and training, thus demonstrating the power of the community voice and lived experience in research. In addition, the network would foster research partnerships to investigate alternative indigenous models for cancer prevention, care, treatment, and support.

Conclusion: The CIRNAC evolved as a viable vehicle to address cancer with, for, and by indigenous peoples. The network is guided by a preamble, a set of aims, and an inclusion engagement circle model. It is evolving through major world initiatives, with the aim of formally becoming an internationally linked national network.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Canada
  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Health Services, Indigenous*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms* / therapy
  • Population Groups

Grants and funding