A Canadian Movement Needed to Control Cancer

    TORONTO, April 16 /CNW/ - Daffodils, a sign of spring, a sign of hope and
also a sober reminder of the impact of cancer on the lives of thousands of
Canadians. Almost all of us have seen cancer close up - the diagnosis of a
friend, a co-worker; a neighbour or a family member and some have experienced
a personal cancer journey. Even with outstanding progress for many types of
cancer, it remains the leading cause of early death in Canada and the current
projections released this week by the Canadian Cancer Society show the total
number of new cancer cases and deaths will continue to rise steadily as the
Canadian population grows and ages.
    The latest report states an estimated 39 per cent of Canadian females and
44 per cent of males will develop cancer during their lifetimes. An estimated
24 per cent of women and 28 per cent of men will die from cancer, or
approximately one out of every four Canadians will die from cancer.
    Since the first cancer registry began tracking cancer cases in
Saskatchewan in 1930, we have learned so much about diagnosing and treating
the more than 200 diseases called cancer. More cancer patients are living
longer and this trend will continue. We are now at the point that we all need
a major "mindshift" to rethink how we prevent, screen, diagnose and treat
cancer in a more seamless way. And, as more people live longer with cancer, it
challenges all of us from the health care professional, the public policy
maker, cancer care agencies, cancer charities, patients, families and all
Canadians, to think about this disease differently.
    We know that cancer can be influenced by a range of factors. What this
means for us is that we can begin to work at preventing cancer by
understanding more about how to reduce risks. We can put in place the most
effective screening tests to allow us to detect cancers early, and to treat
them with the most effective therapies that will improve the quality of life
for patients and reduce the likelihood of dying from cancer. For example,
screening and more effective treatments are credited with the significant
decline in death rates from breast cancer in women. With this, we will need to
have in place supports for more people living with cancer.
    Provincial and territorial governments, recognizing the growing impact of
cancer, have made substantial strides in reorganizing cancer care to provide
cancer-related services in a more coordinated fashion. However, access to
service and the patient treatment experience continues to vary widely across
the country and we read all too often about inequities in care and patient
outcomes across Canada. Getting new research out of the lab and into the
clinics to the patients still takes too long. It will take the combined forces
of all the provinces and territories along with cancer stakeholders to tackle
increasing cancer cases.
    Cancer organizations, including advocates, patients and families, health
care professionals and researchers successfully rallied their forces and
worked together over several years to develop a strategy to control cancer. In
November, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the creation of the Canadian
Partnership Against Cancer and $260 million over five years to fund the
strategy. This strategy is aimed at reducing the expected new cases of cancer
through prevention and screening; reducing the severity of the disease and
improve the quality of life for those living with cancer; and reducing the
likelihood of Canadians dying from cancer. It will call on all Canadians to
play a part.
    Dr. Simon Sutcliffe (President of the BC Cancer Agency) and I are leading
the board of directors to put this strategy into action. The board includes
representatives from cancer stakeholder organizations; the provinces and
territories; organized cancer agencies/systems, patient, family and survivor
groups; Canada's Aboriginal peoples; and the federal government. Together, our
goal is to identify the prevention, screening, diagnosis and treatment
approaches that work and get that knowledge out across the country's cancer
systems. We want to speed the adaptation of the system, reduce costly
duplication of effort across the provinces and territories, and we want to get
results that benefit people.
    Our action groups, made up of the country's leading experts, are working
on projects ranging from short-term practical solutions to relieve cancer
treatment bottlenecks to more complex population based surveillance and
forecasting to increase our knowledge.
    We know that taking a cross-country approach works. The United Kingdom, a
number of European countries and others have implemented national cancer
strategies. They've focused on implementing holistic programs that start with
informing citizens about their role in prevention, all the way through to
advancement of leading edge treatments. They are beginning to show results.
    We have the world class researchers, surgical and medical experts and
innovative leading edge clinical practices here in Canada. Our challenge is to
accelerate the transfer of that knowledge and move it into practice across the
country to gain ground in our battle to control cancer.
    Over the next five years, we will be calling on all Canadians and all the
players of the cancer care system to take part in reducing the incidence of
new cases of cancer, improving the quality of life for those with cancer, and
reducing the number of deaths caused by cancer.

    Jeff Lozon was appointed Chair of the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer
November 24, 2006. He is a former Ontario Deputy Minister of Health and
currently President and CEO of St. Michael's Hospital, Toronto. He can be
reached through www.partnershipagainstcancer.ca He will be speaking to the
Canadian Club of Toronto on April 25, 2007.

For further information:

For further information: Lee Allison Howe, (416) 915-9223, (416)

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