More research, information and support needed for teenagers and young adults with cancer

    VANCOUVER, April 16 /CNW/ - More teenagers and young adults survive a
cancer diagnosis, according to the Canadian Cancer Statistics 2009 released
today by the Canadian Cancer Society, but too little is known about this
    The special focus of this year's report is cancer in adolescents and
young people aged 15 to 29 years of age.
    Each year approximately 2,075 young people in Canada between 15 and 29
years of age are diagnosed with cancer and about 326 die from the disease. The
five-year survival for this age group is 85 per cent, a five per cent increase
from 1992-1995.
    "Thankfully cancer in this age group occurs relatively infrequently and
represents only about 1.5 per cent of all cancer cases. However a cancer
diagnosis when you are young and starting your life, is not something you
should have to deal with," says Barbara Kaminsky, CEO, Canadian Cancer
Society, BC and Yukon.
    As we work to learn more about this largely understudied group, it is
clear that adolescent and young adult cancer poses significant challenges.
"The number of young people diagnosed at this age does not begin to convey the
huge personal impact of a cancer diagnosis. Nor does it reflect the cost to
society as young adults prepare to make life-changing decisions about
employment, education and relationships."
    Canadian Cancer Society funded researcher Dr. Torsten Nielsen, Associate
Professor of Pathology at the University of British Columbia, is studying
synovial sarcomas which arise in the muscles, bones, joints, nerves and other
connective tissues. These types of cancers typically affect young adults and
are treated with surgery.
    While the overall survival rates among teenagers and young adults with
cancer is 85 per cent, the survival rates for some sarcomas is less than 50
per cent.
    With continued funding from the Canadian Cancer Society, Dr. Nielsen's
group is now working on new drugs that may have the potential to treat
synovial sarcomas more effectively than other therapies; if successful, their
research could significantly improve survival rates.
    This year's Canadian Cancer Statistics 2009 reports that adolescents and
young adults are less likely than children to participate in clinical trials.
Only 10 to 20 per cent of this age group participate compared with 60 per cent
among children. According to Dr. Nielsen, a Canadian clinical trial of a new
drug for connective tissue cancers that usually affect young adults is
expected to begin later this year.
    "We are pleased with the additional focus on adolescents and young adults
in this year's statistics," says Nielsen. "More information is needed about
cancer in this age group and about the exceptional challenges these patients
    Adolescents and young adults may delay seeking medical attention upon
experiencing symptoms or they may not have access to routine medical care. The
report also notes teenagers and young adults can experience feelings of
isolation and lack peer support. They also face the stress of navigating a
cancer care system that is primarily tailored to those much older.
    Healthcare providers may be less familiar with cancer symptoms in this
age group and may not consider a cancer diagnosis. In addition to these
challenges, teens and young adults face the possibility of future health
problems, called late effects, as the result of either their cancer or the
treatment they receive.
    "Awareness of cancer in young people requires more attention. This is not
just a disease of the aged," says Kaminsky. "We need to invest more in
research, provide more support and ultimately learn what people can do to
prevent cancer before it starts in this age group."

    Highlights: Cancer in adolescents and young people (15 to 29 years of

    From 1996-2005, the overall cancer incidence rate has risen in young men
by 0.8 per cent per year and in young women by 1.4 per cent per year. However
the death rate has declined from 1995-2004 in young men by 2.9 per cent per
year and in young women by 1.4 per cent per year.
    Leukemia accounts for the greatest number of cancer deaths for both young
men and women in this age group.
    The most common cancers for young men are testicular cancer and lymphoma.
    The most common cancers for young women are thyroid cancer and lymphoma.

    Highlights: Canadian Cancer Statistics 2009

    In Canada the number of new cancer cases is expected to approach 171,000
in 2009 which is about 470 Canadians diagnosed each day, or one every three

    Five-year relative survival ratios in Canada
    For the first time, the Canadian Cancer Statistics includes survival
estimates comparing the change in survival over a ten-year period (1992-1994
to 2002-2004). Over this time period relative survival ratios have risen by
4.5 per cent for all cancers. The greatest improvement in survival was for
non-Hodgkin lymphoma, leukemia, prostate, colorectal and breast cancers.
    Survival is highest for thyroid, testicular and prostate cancers and
melanoma and lowest for pancreatic, esophageal, lung and liver cancers.

    Five-year relative survival ratios in BC
    Like incidence and mortality rates, age-standardized relative survival
ratios are an indicator of the burden of cancer. Examining the five-year
relative survival ratio by province and cancer type can help to identify
priority areas for improving prognosis. British Columbia is very similar to
the national average.
    In Canada the national five-year relative survival ratio for the four
most common cancers are: prostate cancer 94 per cent; breast cancer 87 per
cent; colorectal cancer 62 per cent and lung cancer 15 per cent.
    In British Columbia the province five-year relative survival ratio for
the four most common cancers are: prostate cancer 95 per cent; breast cancer
87 per cent; colorectal cancer 62 per cent and lung cancer 13 per cent.
    In British Columbia in 2009 there are an estimated 20,600 new cases of
cancer and 9,400 deaths expected. This is represents 100 more new cases and
200 more deaths than 2008. The number of new cancer cases and deaths continues
to rise steadily as the Canadian population grows and ages.
    Men in British Columbia continue to have the lowest overall incidence
rate of cancer in Canada and the lowest overall mortality rate for all
    Women in British Columbia have the second lowest overall incidence rate
of cancer in Canada and the lowest overall mortality rate for all cancers.
    Lung cancer continues to be the leading cause of cancer death in men and
women, killing 2,450 British Columbians this year and afflicting another 2,750
    "Preventing cancer and supporting individuals, families and communities
in dealing with its impacts, are public health priorities," says Dr. David
Butler-Jones, Canada's Chief Public Health Officer. "We all have a role to
play, working in collaboration, to make a difference in the lives of

    The Canadian Cancer Society is a national community-based organization of
volunteers whose mission is the eradication of cancer and the enhancement of
the quality of life of people living with cancer. It is the largest national
charitable funder of cancer research in Canada. Last year, the Society funded
close to $49.5 million in leading-edge research projects across the country.
To know more about cancer, visit the website at or call the
toll-free, bilingual Cancer Information Service at 1 888 939-3333.

    -   For more information about Canadian Cancer Statistics 2009, visit the
        Society's website at
    -   A webcast of the media conference is available at:
        (click on "live webcast schedule"). The conference will be archived
        at the same link (click on "archived webcast events.")

For further information:

For further information: Media contact: Kristine Carrick, Manager, Media
Relations, Canadian Cancer Society, B.C. and Yukon Division, T: (604)
675-7340, C: (604) 831-2598, E:

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