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Annual Report Card on Cancer in Canada™ Calls for Greater Innovation in Cancer Care to Improve Patient Outcomes

Cancer Advocacy Coalition of Canada Provides New Insights into Current Cancer Landscape

Toronto, April 11, 2012 – The Cancer Advocacy Coalition of Canada (CACC) reveals in its 2011-2012 Report Card on Cancer in Canada™ that innovative solutions are needed to improve the current landscape for cancer care, prevention and treatment in Canada. Earlier screening mammography for women in their 40s would save hundreds of lives, as would banning smoking in multiunit housing. In addition, the Report Card highlights new innovations that should be adopted more widely and quickly, such as molecular testing for targeted therapies in lung cancer.”This year’s Report Card demonstrates there is a great need for innovation in our battle against cancer, but it also highlights the strides that are already being made in discovering and developing better, more efficient approaches to treatment,” says Dr. James Gowing, Past Chair of the CACC and current Co-Chair of the Report Card on Cancer in Canada Editorial Committee. “New biomarker identification is helping us to personalize treatment for lung cancer, saving money and lives. Work towards eliminating stigma associated with lung cancer will ensure fair access to treatment and prevention. Innovative approaches to fighting cancer are becoming more common place, leading us to the cusp of an important era in cancer care.”

The CACC’s annual Report Card on Cancer in Canada is the country’s only independent evaluation of cancer system performance.

2011-2012 Report Card Highlights

The pros and cons of screening mammography – Dr. Martin J. Yaffe, Senior Scientist, Sunnybrook Research Institute, Tory Family Chair in Cancer Research, and Professor, Departments of Medical Biophysics and Medical Imaging, University of Toronto.

Screening mammography has been the most intensely studied imaging intervention and remains controversial. About 40 per cent of deaths in women come from cancers that emerge between the years 40 and 59. The recommendations on screening for breast cancer detection released in 2011 by the Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care (CTFPHC) closely followed those published two years earlier in the US – which were rejected there – and suggest that less screening be done. The CTFPHC only supports screening mammography of women over the age of 50; however, screening women in Canada in their 40s would prevent about 200 premature deaths due to breast cancer each year. The Federal Government in Canada should request a re-evaluation of the data.

The case for smoke-free multiunit housing in Canada – Dr. David Saltman, Chair and Professor of the Discipline of Oncology, Faculty of Medicine, Memorial University and Kevin Coady, Executive Director, Newfoundland and Labrador Alliance for the Control of Tobacco.

Exposure to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) is a recognized health hazard. There are no laws in Canada that ban smoking in the residential setting. Publically funded housing lags behind the private sector in the provision of smoke-free housing. Most provinces have both private and public smoke-free multiunit housing but SK, NB, QC, NT and NU do not. Provincial and municipal governments need to do more to educate both tenants and landlords about how to implement and maintain smoke-free policies.

Implementing molecularly targeted treatments for Canadian patients with non-small cell lung cancer – Dr. Peter Ellis, Associate Professor, Department of Oncology, McMaster University, and Staff Medical Oncologist, Juravinski Cancer Centre.

In 2011, 25,500 people were diagnosed with lung cancer and 20,600 died. In the past, a number of doctors questioned the value of offering treatments such as chemotherapy to lung cancer patients when the disease has a poor outlook. Increased understanding of genes and gene mutations have led to the development of new types of treatments and help made treatment more targeted. These advances highlight the need to develop a pan-Canadian strategy to: 1) adopt molecular testing; and 2) simultaneously fund the patient selection test and the targeted therapy.

Lung cancer and stigma – Dr. Michelle Lobchuk, Associate Professor and Manitoba Research Chair in Caregiver Communication, Faculty of Nursing, University of Manitoba.

Most studies on lung cancer stigma have tended to focus on public and patient views without examining the impact on lay caregivers. Family and friends can also harbour negative attitudes towards patients with lung cancer, which can impact their helping behaviours. The stigma associated with lung cancer not only results in it receiving just seven per cent of all cancer-specific research funding, although it causes 27 per cent of cancer-specific deaths, but it also affects caregivers’, friends’ and families’ attitudes, interactions and support of their loved ones with lung cancer.

Exploring possibilities for treating tobacco dependence – Dr. Annette Schultz, Associate Professor in the Faculty of Nursing, University of Manitoba and Principal Investigator, St. Boniface Hospital Research Centre.

Health professionals have played a key role in transforming opinions about tobacco use. One might wonder what role health professionals ought to adopt in treating patients’ tobacco dependence during their hospitalization. Research found that assistance with smoking cessation is not consistently offered during hospitalization. There is an organizational responsibility to adopt a system-wide approach for treating tobacco dependence given that smoking restrictions require patients leave the hospital property to smoke. There might be a role for Accreditation Canada to play in changing how tobacco dependence is treated within hospitals.

Additional Highlights from the 2011-2012 Report Card

This year’s Report Card again takes a close look at the patient perspective on cancer care in Canada and the role of patient advocacy. A section on living with cancer features stories from seven Canadians who share information and experiences living with bladder cancer, brain tumours, lymphoma, melanoma, pancreatic cancer and sarcoma cancer. Articles on prostate screening, complementary care, disparities in access and the HPV vaccine complete the Report Card.

About the Cancer Advocacy Coalition of Canada (CACC)

The Cancer Advocacy Coalition of Canada (CACC) is a registered, non-profit cancer group dedicated to citizen advocacy, public education, policy research and evaluation of cancer system performance. The CACC operates on unrestricted grants based on guidelines that ensure the organization’s autonomy. For more information, or to view and download the 2011-2012 Report Card on Cancer in Canada, visit the CACC’s website at www.canceradvocacy.ca.

For further information:
For more information, or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Alastair Harris-Cartwright / Nic Canning
Office: (416) 924-5700 ext. 4012 / 4048
Mobile: 416-418-3672
[email protected] / [email protected]