Mortality rates above average

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Ken Hubley of Stanhope, who was treated for melanoma skin cancer 30 years ago, says early detection is key. Dr. Trina Stewart, a family physician in P.E.I. says people need to monitor any moles they have on their body and note any changes whatsoever.

Alarming figures hammer home message for provincial cancer control strategy launch

Latest numbers from the Canadian Cancer Society this week continue to deliver a sobering message for Prince Edward Islanders. This year, 900 Islanders will be diagnosed with cancer and approximately 370 will die from the disease. Of these new cases, more than half will be prostate, lung, colorectal and breast cancers. The mortality rates for those cancers here are significantly higher than the national average.

There has been conflicting argument expressed on our opinion pages in recent weeks about the threat posed by commercial and cosmetic pesticide spraying. Some data suggests there is no difference in cancer cases here with national figures, and that widespread fears about pesticides are an overreaction attributed to fear-mongering.

But latest data this week suggests otherwise. The society is concerned with these alarming stats and so should all Islanders. It presses home the urgency of completing a long-awaited provincial cancer control strategy to address variances with national cases.

Melanoma skin cancer is one of the fastest rising of all cancers in Canada, especially on P.E.I. where the cases among men are 50 per cent higher than the national average. P.E.I.’s beaches and golf courses, and our fishing and farming industries, are seen as big attractions but they also mean we are outside in the sun a lot, resulting in higher skin cancer cases.

There are some positives. Mortality rates for many cancers are declining. This province has started a Colorectal Cancer Screening Program available to residents between 50 and 74 years of age and since a 2011 launch, over 10,000 Islanders have been screened for colorectal cancer. Of those, 115 have had an early detection of cancer or of a growth found in the pre-cancerous stage. Hundreds more have had polyps removed and are being monitored for any future concerns.

Early screening, self-examination, sun blocks, a healthy diet and regular checkups are proven ways to reduce cancer cases or deaths. We cannot forget these measures.

Some weekend thoughts

A usual spring and Wednesday night’s heavy frost would have done significant horticultural damage across P.E.I. Fortunately, in this case, this is an unusual spring and Mother Nature is at least two weeks late with her spring garlands. Trees are barely in leaf, most home gardens are still in the planning stages, and strawberry and blueberry plants are not yet in bud or flower. So the killer frost May 28 largely missed decimating tomato plants, annuals and the like. It may take a few weeks to confirm that early prognosis, so keep your fingers crossed.

Getting to a more ominous note, mosquitoes and black flies are expected to come out in droves in June, according to entomologists. Because it was such a wet spring, there’s lots of casual water, providing excellent breeding locations. Black flies are just starting to come out now and they are huge. One scientist is expecting the blood-sucking insects to come out “in the zillions” in the upcoming month. There was some hope the cold, long winter might kill a lot of those zillions, including earwigs, but that was too much to hope for, we suppose.

On a more trivia matter, anti-GMO marches last Saturday targeting international chemical giant Monsanto was uneventful in Charlottetown but not so in Halifax. Marchers at the Grand Parade in downtown Halifax went head to head with a wedding ceremony. Things could have gotten ugly in the battle between the white and green crowds, but happily, marchers and bridal party jointly celebrated. The bride and groom were widely toasted and good humour prevailed on both sides. Garlands were tossed and the bride bussed by many.

Organizations: Canadian Cancer Society, Monsanto

Geographic location: P.E.I., Canada, Halifax Charlottetown

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Recent comments

  • Curiouser
    June 02, 2014 - 08:00

    Seriously, I do wonder why there isn't a team of specialists vying to come here and set up shop to aid in cancer research. High cancer rates. On an Island. Where the population and demographics are largely unchanged year to year. If a cure was truly being sought wouldn't this be happening already? All those millions of dollars for cancer research .....

  • Stewart Smith
    June 02, 2014 - 07:18

    It is a fact that breathing, eating, and drinking known cancer-causing pesticides and fungicides causes cancer. There are so called 'safe' levels but, just like radiation, it's a matter of 'acceptable levels of death'. How many people have to die each year to support our disgusting polluting industrial potato industry?