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Thousands of needless deaths can be prevented

18 May 2011

Calgary -

It’s estimated that between 10,000 and 15,000 deaths could be prevented if 80% of Canadians aged 50-74 were screened over the next decade.

Colorectal cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death in Canada, despite the fact that it’s one of the most preventable cancers and can be successfully treated when caught early. It is the featured topic of this year’s annual Canadian Cancer Statistics report, released today by the Canadian Cancer Society.

“Ninety per cent of colorectal cancer cases can be prevented or treated effectively if caught early,” says Liz Viccars, Vice President of Community Engagement for the Canadian Cancer Society, Alberta/NWT Division. “That’s why it’s crucial that everyone talk to their doctor about the best screening options for themselves.”

Emilie Seifert doesn’t match the typical profile of a colorectal cancer patient. Healthy at 37 years old, the mother of four was shocked when she was diagnosed with colorectal cancer.

“Prior to this, I didn’t have any problems,” she says. “I ate a healthy diet, wasn’t overweight, and the doctors told me it wasn’t related to genetics.”

A high-fat diet, obesity and physical inactivity are among the known risk factors for colorectal cancer. 

After six months of chemotherapy and surgery to remove half of her colon, Seifert is cancer free. Following her experience, she urges everyone to talk to their doctor and get screened for colorectal cancer.

Although Seifert was in her late thirties when she was diagnosed, the reality is that approximately 95 per cent of new colorectal cancer cases are detected in men and women after the age of 50. Unfortunately, only a third of Canadians aged 50 to 74 are being screened, according to a recent survey.

Canada has one of the best colorectal survival rates in the world – slightly lower than the United States, but better than most of Europe.

Over the past 10 years, the Canadian Cancer Society has funded more than $20 million in colorectal cancer research.

Fast Facts: Colorectal Cancer

  • Colorectal cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death in Canada and the fourth most common cancer diagnosed overall.
  • Approximately one in 14 Canadians will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer in their lifetime.
  • An estimated 22,000 Canadians will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer in Canada this year. Nearly 9,000 will die from the disease in 2011.
  • In Alberta, close to 2,000 men and women will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer; approximately 670 will die of it this year.

Fast Facts: General Cancer Statistics

  • There are close to 750,000 Canadians living with cancer (according to the latest available data collected January 2007). 
  • More than 177,000 new cases of cancer (excluding more than 75,000 non-melanoma skin cancers) will be diagnosed this year. Approximately 75,000 cancer deaths are expected in 2011 in Canada.
  • The five-year relative survival rate for all cancers combined is 62 per cent.
  • About 40 per cent of Canadian women and 45 per cent of men will develop cancer during their lifetimes.

Canadian Cancer Statistics 2011 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 2011, visit the Society’s website at cancer.ca.

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. When you want to know more about cancer, visit our website www.cancer.ca or call our toll-free, bilingual Cancer Information Service at 1 888 939-3333.

For more information, please contact:

Deanna Kraus

Media Relations Specialist

Phone: (403) 541-5375