Canadian cancer crisis due to aging population

According to a report by the Canadian Cancer Society, Canada's aging baby-boomers and the growing population are creating a cancer crisis, and while survival rates for many major cancers continue to improve, the Society projects that there will be 149,000 new cases of cancer diagnosed this year and 69,500 people will die of the disease, 3,500 more new cases and 1,200 deaths over last year.

Heather Logan, director of cancer control policy at the society, says they are surprised again by the increase in the number of new cancer cases, and the numbers are expected to increase year for the next 20 years.

Logan says the number of new cases in Canada already outpaces population growth by two-to-one and if current trends continue, 5.7 million Canadians will develop cancer and 2.7 million people will die of the disease over the next 30 years and cancer is already straining the healthcare system.

In the report analyses, other than prostate cancer, the incidence of thyroid cancer appears to have gone up significantly increasing by about five per cent since 1992, an increase which has also been noted in Europe and parts of the United States.

The incidence of melanoma in men has also increased by more than two per cent since 1992.

It is possible that because of improved early detection practices such as ultrasound and needle biopsy, early stage cancers are being identified more frequently than was previously possible.

There is thank goodness some good news, the incidence rates for breast cancer in women appear to be stabilizing, and death rates are declining, and the rates of incidence for ovarian cancer and cervical cancer in women is also on the decline, as are the incidence rates for testicular and stomach cancer.

The risk factors listed by the Society for developing cancer include exposure to the sun, tobacco use, an unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and excess body weight.

People can do little things every day that will help reduce the risk of developing cancer says Logan such as maintaining a healthy body weight, being physical active and eating a diet that's rich in high-fibre foods and fruits and vegetables.

She says about 60 per cent don't follow the Society's recommendations of five to 10 servings a day of fruits and vegetables, and half of Canadians are physically inactive and the government needs to put into place policy and legislation to make healthy choices easier.

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