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Cancer advocates renew call for strategy to control cancer at national forum

Aylmer, AC – More than 100 of Canada’s leading cancer advocates, nurses, doctors, patients and researchers have renewed their call for action on a national strategy to control cancer to help prevent more than 1.2 million Canadians from developing the disease in the next 30 years.

At a forum in Aylmer, Quebec this weekend, experts discussed that cancer will soon become the leading cause of death in Canada. A Canadian is diagnosed with cancer every 3.5 minutes and one person dies every 7.5 minutes. If current trends continue, in 20 years, two Canadians will be diagnosed with cancer and one will die every five minutes.

“Implementing the Canadian Strategy for Cancer Control means we could save the lives of more than 420,000 Canadians and approximately $40 billion in direct healthcare costs over the next 30 years,” says Dr Simon Sutcliffe, chair of the Governing Council of the Canadian Strategy for Cancer Control. “The need is urgent.”

Experts at the forum called on the federal and provincial governments to actively engage with the leadership of the Canadian Strategy for Cancer Control on the development and creation of:

– specific performance indicators and targets for reducing the number of people diagnosed with, or dying of, cancer and improving the lives of people experiencing cancer
– a plan that would prepare and respond to shortages of healthcare professionals
– enhanced strategies to prevent cancer, as up to 50 per cent of cancers can be prevented through policies and practices that enhance healthy living
– a national cancer research initiative that would include speeding up the translation of research findings into clinical practice
– an information system that would allow Canada to track its progress in meeting its goals for cancer control.

“Cancer cost Canadians $14.2 billion in 1998. With several million Canadians expected to be diagnosed with cancer in the next three decades, these costs will only increase. By putting in place a nationally-coordinated strategy now, we’ll prevent many of these cancers and protect Canadians from unnecessary suffering,” says Dr Brent Schacter, vice-chair of the Governing Council of the Strategy.

The World Health Organization recommends that all nations put cancer control plans in place. Many nations, including the United Kingdom and Australia, have done so. The Canadian Strategy for Cancer Control, developed by more than 700 cancer experts in 2002, awaits sustained funding and implementation by governments in Canada.

Under the Canadian Strategy for Cancer Control, provinces and territories would be responsible for delivering services while the consortium of cancer stakeholders, including all levels of government, would be jointly responsible for setting national standards in a spirit of national coordination and collaboration.