Diagnosis is the process by which health care providers determine the cause of a health issue. For example, if you have concerns about changes in your body, your visit to your doctor or nurse may result in them ordering an x-ray or blood test. They may also perform a biopsy, which is the removal of a small sample of body tissue for analysis.

The nurse or doctor will review the test results. If they suspect cancer, they will refer you to a cancer specialist. Appointments with a specialist can be made either in Yellowknife or Inuvik while the specialist is visiting, or in Edmonton, Alberta. The specialist will do more tests to confirm whether you have cancer. You should receive your diagnosis within three weeks.

Depending on where you live, you may need to travel to Yellowknife or Edmonton to receive your positive or negative diagnosis of cancer. If you receive a positive diagnosis, meaning that you have cancer, you will be given information about treatment options. Your treatment will begin as soon as possible.

Do not be afraid to ask questions and share your needs when you are speaking with your health care provider. You may wish to ask your health care provider about other support services you can access. Many individuals also find it helpful to speak openly about cancer with their family and friends, and to seek their support.


If you are a person living with cancer, you can ask your health care provider to connect you with the Cancer Navigation Team,  or you can contact the program directly yourself.  You do not need a referral.

Self-refer to the Navigation Program by phone or email: 

Phone toll-free: 1-866-313-7989 
Email: cancer_navigator@gov.nt.ca or cancer_socialwork@gov.nt.ca 

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