Canadian Cancer Statistics 2011 released by the Canadian Cancer Society
with special focus on colorectal cancer
To view the Social Media Release, click here: http://smr.newswire.ca/en/canadian-cancer-society/not-enough-canadians-being-screened-for-colorectal
TORONTO, May 18 /CNW/ - Use of a simple, at-home screening test by
Canadians can prevent many unnecessary colorectal cancer deaths,
according to a special report about colorectal cancer in Canadian Cancer Statistics 2011 released today by the Canadian Cancer Society, in collaboration with
the Public Health Agency of Canada and Statistics Canada.
If 80% of Canadians aged 50+ were screened over the next 10 years, it is
estimated that 10,000 to 15,000 deaths could be prevented.
Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in Canada,
with an estimated 8,900 Canadians dying from the disease in 2011. It is
the fourth most commonly diagnosed cancer in Canada after prostate,
lung and breast cancer. An estimated 22,200 new cases are expected in
Canada in 2011. Although rates of colorectal cancer incidence have been
declining over the past two decades, the number of new cases has
increased substantially due to population growth and aging.
The Society recommends that Canadians aged 50 and over get screened
every two years with a simple stool test (known as FOBT or FIT). But
currently, only 32% of Canadians in this age group report having a
screening test. For people with symptoms or at higher risk of
colorectal cancer, it is important that they talk to their doctors.
"One of the major goals of cancer screening is to detect cancer in
people who have no symptoms," says Gillian Bromfield, Senior Manager,
Cancer Control Policy, Canadian Cancer Society. "For colorectal cancer,
screening from age 50 using a stool test leads to fewer deaths. We need
to identify and overcome barriers to colorectal cancer screening so
that more Canadians get screened regularly. It's a simple test and it
The fecal occult blood test (FOBT) and the fecal immunochemical test
(FIT) are simple, at-home kits that test for trace amounts of blood in
the stool, which can be a sign of colorectal cancer.
"It's very important that doctors talk to their patients about
screening," says Bromfield. "Canadians who have discussed colorectal
cancer screening with their doctors are more than twice as likely to
get screened regularly."
According to the 2009 Colon Cancer Screening in Canada survey, 71.7% of Canadians aged 50 to 74 who discussed colorectal
cancer screening with their doctors are up to date with screening,
compared to only 32.6% who have not had the discussion.
Some other facts about screening, according to the survey:
81% of Canadians are aware that screening tests exist and recognize the
benefits of screening.
60% of Canadians do not understand that screening is a "health
behaviour" that doesn't require symptoms in order to be performed.
Most Canadians are not familiar with the at-home test. Most are aware of
colonoscopy (a more invasive test used for follow-up).
Risk factors and prevention
Risk factors for colorectal cancer include a diet high in red or
processed meat, being overweight, physical inactivity, smoking and a
family history of the disease. The best ways to reduce the risk of
colorectal cancer - along with screening - are eating a healthy diet,
being physically active in order to maintain a healthy body weight, not
smoking and avoiding excessive drinking.
Diagnosis and treatment
After a positive screening test or symptoms such as bleeding,
obstruction or abdominal pain, diagnosis is commonly made using a
medical exam such as colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy.
Treatment depends on the stage at diagnosis and may include surgery,
chemotherapy or radiation.
Compared to other cancers, colorectal cancer has a moderate prognosis
with a five-year relative survival rate of 63%. This is better than
some cancers, such as lung (16% survival), but worse than prostate
(96%) or breast (88%).
Canada has one of the best colorectal cancer survival rates in the world
- slightly lower than the US, but better than most of Europe, including
the UK and Scandinavia.
The five-year colorectal cancer survival has improved considerably -
from 56% in 1992-94 to 63% in 2004-06. Survival is expected to continue
to improve in the future as screening uptake increases.
Trends by province
Participation in screening varies widely across the country, with the
lowest rate in Quebec and the highest in Ontario and Manitoba (the
first two provinces to actively launch province-wide screening programs
in 2008 and 2007 respectively).
Conclusions and recommendations
Treatment advances and screening have led to important reductions in
colorectal cancer deaths and improvements in survival. However, further
improvements will require the following:
continued emphasis on screening, including:
maximizing regular participation and retention in screening programs and
enhancing their quality
improving Canadians' awareness about screening and the fact that
screening is for people with no symptoms
more research into the risk factors for colorectal cancer and effective
prevention and treatment
"By becoming more aware of colorectal cancer, how to screen for it and
how to prevent it, Canadians can help ensure they are looking after
themselves and their families," says Dr. David Butler-Jones, Canada's
Chief Public Health Officer.
A survivor's story
To her friends, 55-year-old Kavita Jagasia is a walking billboard for
the importance of regular colorectal cancer screening.
"Because of what happened to me, now they've all been screened," says
Kavita, diagnosed with colorectal cancer in July 2008. "Everybody
suddenly woke up."
The Toronto-area account manager in corporate travel was diagnosed after
several months of noticing redness in her stool. She told herself it
was nothing to worry about, but friends started commenting on her
weight loss even though she wasn't dieting. Urged by her husband, she
went to her family doctor. A colonoscopy showed she had stage 2
colorectal cancer. Surgery two weeks later removed the tumour and
further treatment was not required.
Kavita considers herself lucky, but says a simple screening tool like
the fecal occult blood test (FOBT or FIT) could have made much of her
People may not want to do it because they think it's "gross," she says,
but "if I had done it I probably would have been treated much earlier.
I probably would have been treated at the polyp stage, rather than a
While a healthy lifestyle may reduce people's cancer risk, Kavita knows
that being of normal weight, a vegetarian, non-smoker and non-drinker
was not enough to prevent her own cancer.
"If it can happen to me, it can happen to anybody," she says.
General highlights: Canadian Cancer Statistics 2011
An estimated 177,800 new cases of cancer (excluding 74,100 cases of
non-melanoma skin cancer) and 75,000 deaths from cancer are expected to
occur in Canada in 2011.
More men than women are diagnosed with cancer, but the gap between the
two sexes has narrowed in recent years (52% of cases are in men versus
48% in women).
More than one-quarter of all cancer deaths - 27% - are due to lung
The death rate for all cancers combined is declining for males in most
age groups and for females under 70.
There were no increases in death rates for most types of cancer in men
or women. Notable exceptions include liver (both sexes), lung (women)
and melanoma (men).
The five-year relative survival rate for all cancers combined is 62%.
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Canadian Cancer Statistics 2011 is prepared, printed and distributed through a collaboration of the
Canadian Cancer Society, the Public Health Agency of Canada, Statistics
Canada and provincial and territorial cancer registries.
The Canadian Cancer Society fights cancer by doing everything we can to
prevent cancer, save lives and support people living with cancer. Join
the fight! Go to fightback.ca to find out how you can help. When you want to know more about cancer,
visit cancer.ca or call our toll-free bilingual Cancer Information Service at 1 888 939-3333.
For more information about Canadian Cancer Statistics 2011, visit cancer.ca.
Colon Cancer Screening in Canada was commissioned by the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer and
conducted from March 10 to April 17, 2009, by Angus Reid Public Opinion
and the Applied Health Research Centre at St. Michael's Hospital in
Toronto. A total of 3,153 Canadians were randomly surveyed. The margin
of error which measures sampling variability is +/- 2.1%. The results
have been statistically weighted according to the most current
education, age, gender and region Census data to ensure the sample is
representative of the adult population aged 45 to 74 in Canada.
/NOTE TO EDITORS: Media Assets accompanying this story are available as
SOURCE Canadian Cancer Society (National Office)
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Bilingual Communications Specialist