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Canada has impressive cancer survival rates

Written by: SHARON LEM, QMI Agency
Dec. 21, 2010

TORONTO - Canadians diagnosed with a range of cancers have impressive survival rates when compared to some European countries, a new study shows.

The international study, published Tuesday in the Lancet medical journal, shows survival rates from 1995 to 2007 for lung, breast, colorectal or ovarian cancer in Ontario, British Columbia, Alberta and Manitoba are among the highest, along with Australia and Sweden out of a total of six countries which included the United Kingdom, Denmark and Norway.

"Everyone was quite pleased to see those results," Janey Shin, director of analytics and surveillance for Canadian Partners Against Cancer, said. "As a country we're doing well in implementing cancer control strategies and we're improving over time... we're on the right path in terms of early detection."

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The study examined data for 2.4 million adults diagnosed with colorectal, lung, breast or ovarian cancer between 1995 and 2007 and survival rates climbed for all countries.

Australia, Sweden and Canada were persistently at the top of the list for survival of four cancers, while Norway, fell in the middle of the pack while the U.K. and Denmark did the poorest.

The study found some differences between jurisdiction and provinces.

For colorectal cancer survival, Ontario ranked first in Canada and third among all 12 health jurisdictions. For lung and breast cancer survival rates, Ontario ranked second overall, while British Columbia did marginally better than Ontario and ranked first.

"It's not a reason to be complacent. We need to be doing more," Dr. Terry Sullivan, president and CEO of Cancer Care Ontario, said.

Survival rates for ovarian cancer after five years in the 2005-2007 interval was 43%. It was 86% survival rate for breast cancer, 19% survival rate for lung cancer and 65% for colorectal cancer survival rates.

"We ought to set our sights on becoming the best in the world. We can offer the best cancer system and we can become the best cancer service in the world," Sullivan said.

Ontario sees 65,000 new cancer patients every year and treats 300,000 existing cancer patients each year at 14 cancer centres in every region at a cost to Cancer Care Ontario's operating budget of $750 million.

There is still room for improvement since Canada has 174,000 new cases of cancer diagnosed in 2010 and 76,000 cancer death each year.

Ontario represents about 38% of the Canadian population.

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