Young cancer survivors present unique challenges

    CALGARY, April 16 /CNW/ - As more young people with cancer survive, there
is increasing need to do more to meet the distinct challenges of these young
patients, according to Canadian Cancer Statistics 2009 released today by the
Canadian Cancer Society.
    The special focus of this year's report is cancer in adolescents and
young people 15 to 29 years of age.
    "Cancer isn't typically on your radar when you're young," says Liz
Viccars, Vice President of Community Engagement for the Canadian Cancer
Society, Alberta/NWT Division. "It's not something you're expecting or
necessarily prepared for when you're embarking on adulthood and that's why
it's important to raise awareness of cancer in this age group."
    Nearly 2,100 young people in Canada between 15 and 29 years of age are
diagnosed each year with cancer and about 325 die from the disease.
    Michael Permack was one of those blindsided by cancer at the age of 29.
Diagnosed with a brain tumour the same day he was left speechless by the first
signs of the disease, he beat the odds and outlived the initial prognosis 16
years ago.
    "I was driving and all of a sudden I couldn't talk," says Permack, a real
estate executive and father of three living in Calgary. "Surviving a brain
tumour wasn't easy, but I'm here to tell about it."
    Part of Permack's journey was connecting with Dr. Peter Forsyth, a local
cancer researcher who has made great strides in understanding malignant
glioma, the most aggressive type of brain cancer. Dr. Forsyth and his team,
based at the University of Calgary, are funded in part by the Canadian Cancer
    Survival rates for all types of cancer among the younger age group have
increased to 85% from 80% in 1992-1995. While the increase in survival is good
news, more information is needed about cancer in this age group and about the
unique challenges young patients face so more can be done.
    Some of those challenges include:

    -   feeling isolated and unable to find peers for emotional support
    -   being overwhelmed by trying to navigate through a cancer system that
        is not tailored to young people
    -   the possibility of future health problems as a result of the cancer
        or the treatment

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

    -   The overall cancer incidence rate has risen since 1996. The death
        rate has declined since 1992.

    -   Lymphomas are one of the most commonly diagnosed types of cancer in
        both sexes, along with thyroid cancer in females and testicular
        cancer in males.

    -   Leukemia accounts for the most cancer deaths in each sex.

    Highlights: Canadian Cancer Statistics 2009

    -   An estimated 171,000 new cases of cancer (excluding 75,100
        non-melanoma skin cancers), and 75,300 deaths from cancer are
        expected to occur in Canada in 2009.

    -   In Alberta this year, it's predicted there will be 15,800 new cases
        of cancer and approximately 6,100 deaths due to cancer.

    -   The five-year relative survival rate for all cancers combined is
        62 per cent (excluding Quebec) - an improvement of 4.5 per cent since

    -   At the beginning of 2005, there were 695,000 people (or about one in
        46 Canadians) living with a cancer that had been diagnosed sometime
        in the previous 10 years.

    -   About 40 per cent of Canadian women and 45 per cent of men will
        develop cancer during their lifetimes.

    -   About 24 per cent of women and 29 per cent of men, or approximately
        one out of four Canadians, is expected to die from cancer.

    Canadian Cancer Statistics 2009 is prepared, printed and distributed
through a collaboration of the Canadian Cancer Society, the Public Health
Agency of Canada, Statistics Canada, provincial/territorial cancer registries,
as well as university-based and provincial/territorial cancer agency-based
cancer researchers.
    For more information about Canadian Cancer Statistics 2009, visit the
Society's website at

    About the Canadian Cancer Society

    The Canadian Cancer Society is a national community-based organization of
volunteers and staff whose mission is to eradicate cancer and to enhance the
quality of life of people living with cancer. When you want to know more about
cancer, visit our website at or call our toll-free, bilingual Cancer
Information Service at 1 888 939-3333.

For further information:

For further information: To arrange an interview or for more
information, please contact: Deanna Kraus, (403) 541-5375, Media Relations
Specialist, Canadian Cancer Society, Alberta/NWT Division,

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Canadian Cancer Society (Alberta/NWT Division)

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