Almost half of colorectal cancers are found after they have already spread despite availability of screening programs, new report finds

Wednesday, June 13, 2018 Cancer News
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Canadian Cancer Society urges Canadians to learn more about cancer screening

TORONTO, June 13, 2018

/CNW/ - About 1 in 2 colorectal cancers in Canada are diagnosed after they have spread to lymph nodes or other parts of the body, even though most provinces and territories have screening programs designed to catch the
disease early or before it starts, according to a new report released today by the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS). The report – Canadian Cancer Statistics: A 2018 special report on cancer incidence by stage – was produced in partnership with the Public Health Agency of Canada and Statistics Canada in collaboration with the provincial and territorial cancer registries.

Colorectal cancer is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer in Canada and the second leading cause of cancer death, accounting for an estimated 9,400 deaths in 2017 alone. The 5-year survival rate for colorectal cancer diagnosed at stage 4 is less than 15%. But that rate increases to 90% when it is diagnosed earlier, at stage 1. Fewer Canadians would die from this disease if more were screened.

"What's troubling is that participation rates in colorectal cancer screening programs are low," says Dr Leah Smith, Senior Manager of Surveillance at CCS. "Increasing the number of people who are screened could have a significant impact for colorectal cancer in Canada. Not only can screening increase the chances of survival by detecting colorectal cancer early, when it's most treatable, it can also detect precancerous growths so they can be removed before they turn into cancer. This makes colorectal cancer screening a powerful prevention tool."

CCS strongly encourages people to talk to their healthcare professional about what cancer screening options are right for them. In general, we recommend that Canadians aged 50 to 74 who are not at high risk for colorectal cancer get screened every 2 years with a simple at-home stool test. 

"Colorectal cancer can be prevented and treated, which makes education and awareness about its risk factors—such as unhealthy eating, physical inactivity, and smoking—so important. I encourage all Canadians to get informed and to take steps to lower their risk of developing colorectal cancer, including speaking with their healthcare professionals about screening options," said the Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Minister of Health. "The Government of Canada is committed to working with partners, including the Canadian Cancer Society, to continue to promote screening programs and to educate Canadians about how to reduce their cancer risk."     

About the Canadian Cancer SocietyThe Canadian Cancer Society is a national, community-based organization of volunteers whose mission is to eradicate cancer and enhance the quality of life of people living with cancer. Thanks to our donors and volunteers, CCS has the most impact, against the most cancers, in the most communities in Canada. Building on our progress, we are working with Canadians to change cancer forever. To learn more about cancer, visit or call our toll-free, bilingual Cancer Information Service at 1-888-939-3333 (TTY 1-866-786-3934).

SOURCE Canadian Cancer Society (National Office)

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