It’s time to increase survival rates for hard-to-treat cancers

29 July 2016

On average, 539 Canadians receive a cancer diagnosis each day. Thanks to the tremendous work of researchers, over 60% of Canadians diagnosed with cancer will survive. When compared with the 25% survival rate in the 1940s, it’s clear how much progress we’ve made.

But achieving the same progress with some cancers – such as brain, lung, pancreatic, ovarian and esophageal cancers – is challenging. For those diagnosed with these or other hard-to-treat cancers, the need to improve treatments and increase survival rates has never been greater.

Every cancer is different. A cancer can be hard to treat if it’s caught too late, if it has spread or if it learns how to outsmart available treatments. Many cancers have multiple subtypes that can have different responses to treatment and different outcomes.

More research on hard-to-treat cancers is urgently needed to improve treatment and survival rates.

There’s such a need to research hard-to-treat cancers. I am a very rare case where my cancer was caught early when I had no symptoms whatsoever. Others need to be just as lucky as I was but right now that’s not the case for many.

- Margarita Szymczak-Grzyb, an ovarian cancer survivor 

Margarita’s story

Margarita Szymczak-Grzyb considers herself lucky to be alive. After a routine check-up with her doctor in 2015, the then-23-year-old learned she had a cyst on her ovary. Shortly after, a biopsy revealed that she had stage 1 ovarian cancer.

Upon hearing she had cancer, Margarita thought she now wouldn’t be able to go to school, get an apartment or find her dream job. Ovarian cancer is considered hard-to-treat and is most often found in women over the age of 50.

Thankfully, after having surgery to remove her ovary and fallopian tube, Margarita learned she was cancer-free the day before her 24th birthday.

“There’s such a need to research hard-to-treat cancers,” Margarita says. “I am a very rare case where my cancer was caught early when I had no symptoms whatsoever. Others need to be just as lucky as I was but right now that’s not the case for many.”

Ovarian cancer has non-specific symptoms that can mimic other conditions, making it hard to diagnose until later stages of the disease.

Many people diagnosed with a hard-to-treat cancer will not be as lucky as Margarita. We need to fund research that will shed light on how to diagnose these cancers earlier and treat them more effectively.

Please donate now to fund our vital research on hard-to-treat cancers.

Our research has made huge strides, but some cancers still have low survival rates.

We can do so much more. While our researchers have made remarkable progress, their work can only be fueled by the generous donations from fellow Canadians.

20 year change in 5 year survival rates

20 year increase in 5 year survival rate by cancer type

With your help, we can make a greater impact on these cancers.

When you give to the Society, you’re supporting researchers across the country as well as excellent research centres like the Canadian Cancer Trials Group (CCTG). CCTG is the only Canadian cancer trials group that conducts the entire range of clinical trials across the full spectrum of different cancer types, including those classified as hard to treat.

Your donations give our researchers the ability to discover and provide access to new treatments for people with cancer. The research you fund with your donation today will shape cancer treatments tomorrow and for years to come.

Our researchers need your support to help them continue their work.

Dr Raymond AndersenDr Raymond Andersen

Discovered how a sea sponge could treat pancreatic cancer

Read more

Dr Annette McWilliamsDr Annette McWilliams

Developed an electronic nose to sniff out lung cancer

Read more

Dr Simon Graham

Dr David Huntsman

Identified a bio-marker for rare and aggressive ovarian cancer

Read more (pg. 56)

Every dollar you contribute to research helps our most brilliant minds learn more about cancer than ever before. These researchers need your help to move forward with their important work. Your donations make a real difference.

“There is a great and urgent need for funding more research into hard-to-treat cancers. I’m confident that, given the right funding, we can learn more about hard-to-treat cancers than ever before and improve prevention, early detection, treatment and survival rates,” says Dr Siân Bevan, Vice-President, Research, Canadian Cancer Society.

Better survival rates start with you. Please support us.

Your donation will help achieve real and significant progress against this disease. Thank you for your generous support to make more research possible.

We are working hard to unravel this complex disease. Our researchers are making real impacts in people’s lives today, as well as preventing cancer for future generations.

Spread the word. Tell a friend that you have joined in the fight against cancer and share your story using #H2T.

Text "fight" to 20222 to donate $10, $20 or $25.