Prevention can reduce cancer rates: statistics report



    VANCOUVER, April 11 /CNW/ - Breast cancer death rates among women have
fallen by 25 per cent since 1986 and more women are living longer after a
diagnosis of breast cancer, according to cancer statistics released today by
the Canadian Cancer Society.
    But a local spokesperson says Canadian Cancer Statistics 2007 shows more
than 22,000 women across Canada will be diagnosed with breast cancer,
including 2,700 cases in B.C., and the numbers don't need to be that high.
    "A combination of health-first public policy and individual action is
needed to reduce the burden of cancer," said Cathy Adair, vice president of
strategic initiatives for the Canadian Cancer Society, B.C. and Yukon
Division.
    "Mortality rates from breast cancer are as low as they've been since
1950. But incidence rates aren't dropping in the same way as death rates,"
said Adair. "And prevention of breast cancer, and all cancers, is our ultimate
goal."
    The cancer statistics show B.C. women still have the lowest
age-standardized incidence and death rates for breast cancer in Canada. Adair
is convinced we can do better.
    "Preventative strategies known to reduce illnesses, save lives, and
control health care costs still don't receive the attention they deserve," she
said.
    "Primary prevention is relegated to 'poor cousin' status in health care
even though reductions in diseases like breast cancer are linked to policies
that encourage individual lifestyle choices that can help prevent illness."
    Adair says prevention isn't highlighted enough as a measure against
breast cancer, which the statistics report pays particular attention to this
year. She cites a recent vitamin D study that suggested supplementation could
reduce the risk of breast cancer by one-half and colorectal cancer by
two-thirds, as an example of important yet neglected prevention information.
    "Anything that can reduce your risk of cancer is worth looking at," she
said.
    "We've been doing a good job in identifying ways at detecting cancer
through screening, and treatments have also improved over the decades. But we
need to work further towards prevention of cancer and find a balance between
individual and systemic change."
    Adair is confident the Society's investment in a Research Chair in
Primary Prevention of Cancer at UBC will provide valuable insights on
modifiable risk factors for breast cancer and other diseases.
    Based on current knowledge, opportunities for women to reduce breast
cancer risk include eating a healthy diet, being physically active,
maintaining a healthy body weight, minimizing alcohol consumption and avoiding
non-essential hormones.
    The statistics report identifies four key ways to ensure progress
continues against breast cancer so that fewer women are diagnosed with the
disease and fewer die from it:

    
    -   Through research identify additional modifiable risk factors for
        breast cancer, such as occupational and environmental exposure, and
        vitamin D;

    -   Increase research to identify further genetic factors so that women
        at high risk can take appropriate actions;

    -   Increase participation in organized breast screening programs among
        women aged 50-69 by developing more effective methods for recruitment
        and retention;

    -   Continue to use the best treatment options, and develop and test new
        treatments.
    

    "Up to 50 per cent of all cancers are preventable," said Adair. "But it's
one thing to believe in prevention and quite another to translate that belief
into behaviour.
    "Individuals need incentives to encourage them to take action for their
health, whether it's mandatory physical activity in grades K-12 or removing
junk food from vending machines in publicly-owned buildings. Public policy can
support the most vulnerable groups to take control of their health and reduce
their risk of cancer."

    A closer look at B.C. cancer statistics

    In B.C. in 2007, there will be an estimated 20,600 new cases of cancer
(600 more than last year) and 9,000 deaths (200 more than last year). The
increased number of new cases is due primarily to our increasing and aging
population.
    B.C. women have the second lowest overall incidence rate of cancer in
Canada and the lowest overall mortality rate for all cancers.
    Men in B.C. continue to have the second lowest overall incidence rates of
cancer and the lowest mortality rate for cancers in Canada.
    Lung cancer will continue to be the leading cause of cancer death in both
men and women, killing 2,300 people in B.C. and afflicting 2,800 newly
diagnosed B.C. residents.
    In 2007, 2,700 B.C. women will be diagnosed with breast cancer and 640
are expected to die (up slightly from last year).
    Approximately 3,200 B.C. men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer (200
more than last year) and there will be an estimated 550 deaths.
    Canadian Cancer Statistics 2007 is prepared, printed and distributed
through a collaboration of the Canadian Cancer Society, the Public Health
Agency of Canada, the National Cancer Institute of Canada, Statistics Canada,
provincial/territorial cancer registries, as well as university-based and
provincial/territorial cancer agency-based cancer researchers.

    Founded in 1938, the Canadian Cancer Society is a national,
community-based organization that seeks to eradicate cancer and improve the
quality of life of people living with cancer. The Society provides valuable
cancer information services, funds research and educates Canadians on cancer
risks. In British Columbia and the Yukon, it has funded $19 million in
B.C.-based research over the last five years and recently established the
Canadian Cancer Society Research Chair in Primary Prevention of Cancer at UBC.

    NOTE:

    For complete details on the estimates for cancer rates in B.C. and the
    Yukon visit:
http://www.bc.cancer.ca/ccs/internet/standard/0,3182,3278_317184__langId-en,00
.html





For further information:

For further information: Media contact: Marcelo Dominguez, Manager,
Media Relations, Canadian Cancer Society, B.C. and Yukon Division, T: (604)
675-7340, C: (778) 686-1300, E: mdominguez@bc.cancer.ca

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Canadian Cancer Society (BC and Yukon Division)

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