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It’s Time to Get Screened PEI

18 May 2011

Charlottetown -

Use of a simple, at-home screening test by Islanders can prevent many unnecessary colorectal cancer deaths, according to a special report about colorectal cancer in the Canadian Cancer Statistics 2011 released today by the Canadian Cancer Society, in collaboration with the Public Health Agency of Canada and Statistics Canada.

It is estimated that 10,000 to 15,000 deaths could be prevented if 80% of Canadians aged 50 to 74 were screened over the next 10 years (up to 16% fewer deaths from colorectal cancer a year).

In PEI it is estimated colorectal cancer will claim 45 lives in 2011 and be the diagnosis for an estimated 115 Island men and women.

“Today’s release of the Canadian Cancer Statistics 2011 demonstrates the strides that have been made in the fight against cancer but also provides us with the information needed to develop programs and invest in research to continue to make a positive impact,” says Dr. Dagny Dryer,  PEI medical oncologist and member of the Steering Committee on Cancer Statistics.

“The information collected, analysed and shared through these statistics offers opportunities to acknowledge any increases or reductions in mortality rates and to track and understand trends in incidence rates of this disease. This year’s report features a special topic on colorectal cancer which can offer insights into further prevention initiatives, effective detection and advancements in treatment of this cancer,” shares Dr. Dryer.

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death and is the fourth most commonly diagnosed cancer in Canada and third in Prince Edward Island after prostate and lung cancers. Although rates of colorectal cancer incidence have been declining over the past two decades, the number of new cases has increased substantially due to population growth and aging.

The Canadian Cancer Society recommends that Canadians aged 50 to 74 get screened every two years with a simple stool test (known as FOBT or FIT). But currently, only 21.6% of Islanders in this age group report having a screening test, the second lowest rate in the country following Quebec. For people with symptoms or at higher risk of colorectal cancer, it is important that they talk to their doctors.

Recognizing the benefits of cancer screening, the Canadian Cancer Society’s PEI Division announced the launch of a second phase of its campaign to get Islanders screened. Television and radio commercials will spread the message that screening for colon, breast and cervical cancers saves lives.

“It’s important for Islanders to understand that cancer screening is a regular part of a healthy routine,” says Dawn Binns, Executive Director of the Canadian Cancer Society, PEI Division. “The success of last year’s campaign has been measured showing a substantial increase of awareness that screening should happen before there are symptoms. This time we are calling upon Islanders to take action. Don’t just think about getting screened for cancer, do it,” encourages Binns.

Sandra Reeves, of North Bedeque, joined in the launch today to share her experience as a two time survivor of colorectal cancer. The 62 year old loans officer with the Consolidated Credit Union was first diagnosed in 2002 and six years later she battled again.

Reeves admits the first time around she ignored the symptoms. “I knew something was wrong but fear kept me from dealing with it. I kept hoping the problem would go away. By the time I went to the doctor, it had advanced to stage 3 cancer,” shares Reeves. “Now I tell everyone I know not to be afraid of what might be found but to look after their health by getting screened regularly.”

Reeves’ second bout of cancer was detected through routine screening. “This second diagnosis totally shocked me. I was being careful about my health and had no symptoms at all. Screening detected the colon cancer. At least it was found when it was still treatable and I am dong well today.”

In April of this year, the province of Prince Edward Island announced its Colorectal Cancer Screening Program.  This new program makes screening easier and more accessible. “We are calling upon all men and women aged 50-74 to take part in the province-wide colorectal screening program,” says Health and Wellness Minister Carolyn Bertram. “The addition of colorectal cancer screening to the already existing breast and cervical screening programs is vital to make a difference in the fight against cancers.  Screening leads to early detection, which allows for effective intervention and treatment and we are pleased to partner with the Canadian Cancer Society to ensure Islanders hear this life saving message,” says Minister Bertram.

The new colorectal cancer screening program for PEI means all Islanders aged 50-74 have access to a simple, at-home kit that tests for trace amounts of blood in the stool, which can be a sign of colorectal cancer. A kit can be picked up at all family health clinics and medical centres across the province free of charge. For more information on the program or how to get a kit call toll-free 1-888-561-2233.

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 and provincial and territorial cancer registries.

The Canadian Cancer Society fights cancer by doing everything we can to prevent cancer, save lives and support people living with cancer. Join the fight! Go to fightback.ca  or call our toll-free bilingual Cancer Information Service at 1 888 939-3333.

For more information about Canadian Cancer Statistics 2011, visit cancer.ca.

For more information on how to get screened in PEI or to find out what screening is right for you go to www.getscreenedpei.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:

Lori Barker

Executive Director

Phone: 902-566-4007