August 17, 2018

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National report puts spotlight on cancer screening rates

To lower mortality rates, the breast cancer screening rate should be 70 per cent of the population; colon cancer screening should be 60 per cent; and cervical cancer screening should be between 70 per cent and 80 per cent, the Canadian Cancer Society says. (Dreamstime/TNS Files)</p>

To lower mortality rates, the breast cancer screening rate should be 70 per cent of the population; colon cancer screening should be 60 per cent; and cervical cancer screening should be between 70 per cent and 80 per cent, the Canadian Cancer Society says. (Dreamstime/TNS Files)

Cancer mortality rates in Manitoba for both men and women were higher than the national average in 2017, says a new study and data released Wednesday by the Canadian Cancer Society.

Cancer is the leading cause of death in Canada, and in Manitoba the target rates for the three screening programs — breast, colorectal and cervical cancer — are all under what they should be to be fully effective, the study says.

“The fastest way to decrease the mortality rate is to identify cancer early, before it spreads," said Kyra Gawalko, senior manager for missions at the Canadian Cancer Society's Manitoba division.

It's the reason the Canadian Cancer Society invests in research, she added.

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Cancer mortality rates in Manitoba for both men and women were higher than the national average in 2017, says a new study and data released Wednesday by the Canadian Cancer Society.

Cancer is the leading cause of death in Canada, and in Manitoba the target rates for the three screening programs — breast, colorectal and cervical cancer — are all under what they should be to be fully effective, the study says.

"The fastest way to decrease the mortality rate is to identify cancer early, before it spreads," said Kyra Gawalko, senior manager for missions at the Canadian Cancer Society's Manitoba division.

It's the reason the Canadian Cancer Society invests in research, she added.

"It is also why we urge all eligible Manitobans to participate in the three cancer screening programs available. The higher the participation rate, the more likely we are able to catch cancer early or abnormalities before they become cancer."

The take-away message is not new, but with an estimated 80,800 cancer deaths in Canada in 2017, it's no surprise doctors, researchers and statisticians have joined forces to push it harder. The battle has always been to persuade people to take the tests regularly before they show symptoms, Gawalko said.

Ignoring the screening test is costing Manitobans their lives, says the new report, "Canadian Cancer Statistics: a 2018 special report on cancer incidence by stage."

The study was released by a coalition of partners, including the Canadian Cancer Society, Public Health Agency of Canada and Statistics Canada. They joined forces a couple of years ago in an effort to shift the conversation away from scary mortality rates to focus on the stages of cancer and when they're caught in Canada.

"This is the first time we’ve have reported on cancer incident by stage at diagnosis, offering new and valuable insight into Canada’s cancer burden and what can be done about it," the Canadian Cancer Society said in a statement that indicated the latest annual report built on the findings of the 2017 document.

One out of four Canadians is expected to die from the disease, and nearly one in two can expect to be diagnosed with some form of cancer in their lifetime, the report says.

In 2017, those numbers amounted to a national mortality rate of 233.3 for men and 172.1 for women per 100,000, the standard measure by population.

Manitoba’s numbers were marginally higher: 248.6 men and 188.4 women out of every 100,000 could be expected to die of cancer.

Each day, 18 people die of cancer in Manitoba, estimated at 2,900 deaths in 2017.

Diagnoses were more than twice as high, at 6,700 new cases.

The cancer society’s Manitoba division anticipates 3,300 men and 3,400 women will be diagnosed with the disease in 2018.

Cancer rates have trended up as the country’s population ages, but the peak for mortality rates was in 1988. Since then, new treatments and earlier detection have saved an estimated 179,000 lives nationwide.

Some 60 per cent of Canadians diagnosed with cancer can expect to be alive five years later, compared to 25 per cent in the 1940s, researchers say.

The national report doesn’t break down rates by province, as populations are too small to make those numbers statistically significant, according to the Canadian Cancer Society.

The leading causes of death by cancer in Canada also aren't new, either. For men, it is lung, colorectal and prostate; for women, it is lung, breast and colorectal cancers.

Together, those cancers accounted for half of all new diagnoses.

alexandra.paul@freepress.mb.ca

Alexandra Paul

Alexandra Paul
Reporter

Alexandra believes every story has a life of its own with a heartbeat and body and legs. She’ll probe for a pulse and check out its shape from every which way, until she feels it and sees it. So be patient with her. She can be exasperating.

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