Cancer: a serious threat to baby boomers
In Quebec, an integrated strategy must be implemented to avoid
a cancer crisis
MONTREAL, April 11 /CNW Telbec/ - Cancer, the leading cause of death in
Quebec, is on the rise across Canada. According to the latest Canadian Cancer
Statistics, in 2007, there will be an estimated 41,000 new cancer cases in
Quebec (159,900 in Canada) and 19,500 deaths caused by the disease (72,700 in
Canada). This is 2,700 more cases and 400 more deaths than in 2006 (6,800 more
cases and 2,300 more deaths in Canada).
"With the aging baby boomer generation and the population growth, it can
be expected that close to 1.5 million Quebecers (5.7 million Canadians) will
develop one form or another of cancer over the next 30 years, and that
725,000 (1) of these people (2.7 million for all of Canada) will die from the
disease during the same period(2)," says Dr. Gilles Pineau, interim president
of the Canadian Cancer Society's Quebec Division.
The aging baby boomer population is propelling Quebec and the rest of
Canada into a cancer crisis. According to the Canadian Cancer Society,
establishing a coordinated cancer control strategy is urgent.
More than one person in three-38% of Canadian women and 44% of Canadian
men-will develop cancer in their lifetime. Within the next few years, one
person in two will have at least one cancer during their life. Also, an
estimated 24% of Canadian women and 29% of Canadian men, meaning approximately
one person in four, will die of cancer(3).
Across the country, breast cancer remains the leading cause of cancer
death for women (5,900 new cases in Quebec, 22,500 in Canada) and prostate
cancer remains the leading cause of cancer death for men (4,2004 new cases in
Quebec, 22,300 in Canada). However, the breast cancer mortality rate is
dropping and a larger number of women are surviving longer(5). In men, the
prostate cancer mortality rate has declined significantly since 1994. The
decreased mortality rates in both these types of cancer are due largely to new
and improved treatments and more frequent screening.
In 2007, lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer death in both
women and men: 6,200 in Quebec (2,600 women and 3,600 men), i.e. 31% of all
lung-cancer-related deaths in the country (19,900 deaths in Canada: 8,900
women and 11,000 men). In 25 years, smoking has decreased at a slower rate
among women than men. The result: lung cancer is now the primary cause of
cancer death among women in Quebec and the rest of Canada. New fact: more
young women (aged 20 to 44) than young men are diagnosed with lung cancer and
die from it.(6)
Colorectal cancer is still the second leading cause of cancer death
(2,400 in Quebec, 8,700 in Canada). Approximately 90% of colorectal cancer
cases are diagnosed in Canadians over the age of 50. Screening by means of the
fecal occult blood test may reduce the incidence of colorectal cancer by
detecting blood in the stool from pre-cancerous polyps. Once identified, these
polyps can be removed before they become cancerous. Scientific evidence shows
that colorectal cancer deaths could be reduced by 17% if 70% of Canadians
between the ages of 50 and 74 had a fecal occult blood test every two years.
This year, the eldest of Canada's baby boomers will be turning 60(7), an
age when cancer frequently occurs. This phenomenon will accelerate in the
coming years and will completely change the demographic face of Quebec
"The risk of developing cancer increases significantly with age," says
Dr. Pineau. "Estimates for 2007 indicate that in Canada, 110,900 new cases-70%
of the total-will be diagnosed in people aged 60 and over(8). Some
59,600 deaths-82% of the total-will be recorded in the same age group."
"It's true that incidence and mortality rates have stabilized or declined
for several cancer sites in the last ten years," says Ms. Marie-Claude
Lafleur, Director of Communications at the Canadian Cancer Society's Quebec
Division. However, Ms. Lafleur points out that in addition to research, a
great deal remains to be done in the fight against this terrible disease:
- pursue tobacco control (tobacco is still responsible for 30% of all
cancer cases and 85% of lung cancer cases);
- lobby the government to implement a major campaign to motivate more
Quebec women aged 50 to 69 to take part in the Quebec breast cancer
screening program (mammography every two years);
- demand an organized colorectal cancer screening program (already
announced in Ontario, Manitoba(9) and Alberta);
- request the creation of a vaccination program(10) to protect against
- raise public awareness about making healthy choices, and pressure
government authorities to implement public health policies (at least
half of all cancers could thus be prevented).
"Cancer is taking a heavy toll on Quebecers and exerting tremendous
pressure on our health care system. Close to 350,000 of our friends, relatives
and acquaintances (1,380,000 Canadians) have been diagnosed with cancer in the
last 10 years and we seriously fear that this situation is going to worsen
with the aging of the population," adds Ms. Lafleur. "Data indicates that the
chances of surviving cancer are lower in Quebec than elsewhere in Canada.
There is an urgent need for Quebec to establish a strong, integrated strategy
among all parties involved in cancer control."
Like many other organizations, the Canadian Cancer Society is demanding
unequivocal recognition of cancer as a health priority in Quebec. The Society
also believes that the quality of life and mental balance of people living
with this disease must be taken into serious consideration and be an integral
part of the overall approach to cancer care. "Manifestations of anxiety during
treatments, psychological reactions, interpersonal relations and coping skills
are just as important as the medical and therapeutic aspects," concludes
In Quebec, over the next 25 years, cancer will cost over $210
billion-excluding inflation and system costs-in health care, salary and
disability insurance and lost productivity in companies(11).
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.
The Canadian Cancer Society is a national community-based organization of
volunteers whose mission is to eradicate cancer and to enhance the quality of
life of people living with cancer.
To make a donation, become a volunteer, find out more about cancer or the
Society's activities and services, contact our Cancer Information Service at
1 888 939-3333 or visit our Web site at www.cancer.ca.
(1) Estimation based on data showing that Quebec, with 23% of the
Canadian population, records 26% of new cancer cases and 27% of
(2) Figures released in the "Establishing the Framework for a
Comprehensive Canadian Strategy for Cancer Control" report, Canadian
Strategy for Cancer Control, February 2005, page 2.
(3) "Probability of Developing/Dying from Cancer" in Canadian Cancer
Statistics 2007, pages 57 and 58, April 2007.
(4) The number of cases for the years used to produce the estimates is
(5) According to a special report in Canadian Cancer Statistics 2007.
(6) Cancer in Young Adults in Canada, published jointly by Cancer Care
Ontario and the Public Health Agency of Canada, September 2006.
(7) Born in Canada between 1947 and 1966, baby boomers are 41 to 60
years of age in 2007, according to David K. Foot, author of Boom,
Bust & Echo in the Workplace (Vital Aging, Volume 11, Number 2-3,
June - October 2005, page 5).
(8) "Age and Sex Distribution of Cancer" in Canadian Cancer Statistics
2007, page 52, April 2007.
(9) The first phase of a bowel screening program was announced in
January 2007 and will be implemented progressively across the
(10) An HPV vaccine was approved by Health Canada in July 2006. It
provides protection against the four types of HPV (6, 11, 16 and 18)
linked to 70% of cervical cancers and to 90% of genital warts. On
March 19, 2007, the federal government announced a $300-million
budget ($70 million for Quebec) for the implementation of a
Canada-wide HPV vaccination program.
(11) Coalition Priorité Cancer au Québec, study on Les impacts du cancer
sur la collectivité, Forum sur le cancer au 2006.
For further information:
For further information: André Beaulieu Communication, (514) 393-3444;
Sophie Charette, Senior Communications Officer, Canadian Cancer Society,
Quebec Division, (514) 255-5151, extension 2401