Report gives clear picture of PEI cancer rates: health minister

Most cancer deaths in P.E.I. are from lung, colorectal, prostate and breast cancers

Published on November 9, 2012
Health care
Photo special to The Guardian.

The number of Islanders getting cancer is on the rise but residents here in general are living longer with the disease, says a new report.

Health and Wellness Minister Doug Currie lauds the 1980-2009 Cancer Trends Report for Prince Edward Island released earlier this week as an important document.

"It provides us with a clear, realistic picture of our current cancer rates, and it will help us to make appropriate policy decisions going forward,'' Currie said in a statement.

Dr. Carol McClure, a chronic disease epidemiologist, says the report highlights the fact that P.E.I. does have an aging population.

"We are going to see a high incidence of cancer in the years to come because people are getting older and age is a risk factor for cancer,'' said McClure.

"We also need to realize that Islanders have many risk factors that are contributing to the increasing number of new cases of cancer."

The report's data, which comes form the provincial cancer registry, is seen as a first step in understanding cancer trends in Islanders.

More than half of all new cancers and cancer deaths in P.E.I. are from lung, colorectal, prostate and breast cancers.

"While significant improvements have been made in the area of cancer prevention, there is much more work to be done,'' said Currie.

"We have already put in place the Smoke Free Places Act, increased screening programs for colorectal and breast cancers, expanded the Cancer Treatment Centre and the cancer patient navigator program, and this year we hope to pass new legislation on tanning beds restrictions.''

Currie adds more needs to be done. He says his government will be creating a task group to review the report and make further recommendations "as to where we need to focus next in cancer care.''

The Cancer Trends Report is a 65-page scientific document that outlines the cancer cases diagnosed from 180 to 2009 in Prince Edward Island. The report is compiled every five years.

Here are some notable trends highlighted in the report:

• There were almost twice as many new cases of cancer diagnosed in 2009 (835 cases) as there were in 1980 (473 cases).

• The number of yearly deaths in P.E.I. due to cancer increased by 30 per cent from 271 deaths in 1992 to 352 deaths in 2009.

• In 2009, Islanders had the highest incidence rate of lung cancer across Canada. Island men have seen a decrease in incidence and mortality rates of lung cancer, which has been attributed to decreases in smoking rates in men since the 1960s.

• Prostate cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in P.E.I.

• Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women.