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Aging population to set off cancer crisis News Staff April 12 2005.

While survival rates for many major cancers continue to improve, Canada's aging baby-boomers and the growing population are creating a cancer crisis, according to the Canadian Cancer Society.

In its 2005 cancer statistics, released Tuesday, the Canadian Cancer Society projects that there will be 149,000 new cases of cancer diagnosed this year and 69,500 people will died of the disease in 2005. That is 3,500 more new cases and 1,200 deaths over last year.

"We're surprised again by the year over year increase by the number of new cancer cases," Heather Logan, director of cancer control policy at the society, told CTV's Canada AM.

"And those numbers are expected to increase year over year for the next 20 years."

The number of new cases in Canada already outpaces population growth by two-to-one. If current trends continue, 5.7 million Canadians will develop cancer and 2.7 million people will die of the disease over the next 30 years, Logan says.

"Cancer is already straining our healthcare system and it's going to get worse as the number of new cancer cases increases as the baby boom generation ages."

Thyroid cancer

Of all the cancers analyzed in the report, other than prostate cancer, the incidence of thyroid cancer appears to have gone up significantly.

The incidence of thyroid cancer in men and women has increased by about five per cent since 1992.

"The increasing rate of thyroid cancer has also been noted in Europe and parts of the United States," the report from the Society says.

"It is postulated that improved early detection practices (ultrasound and needle biopsy) are identifying early stage cancers more frequently than was possible in the past."

The incidence of melanoma in men has also increased by more than two per cent since 1992. "Despite all the warnings, we are still spending time in the sun," said Logan.

There was some good news in the statistics released Tuesday by the Canadian Cancer Society.

Incidence rates for breast cancer in women appear to be stabilizing, and death rates are declining.

"And this is largely because of organized mammography screening in women in the target age group, which is 50 to 69, and because of better treatments after surgery," said Logan.

Rates of incidence for ovarian cancer and cervical cancer in women is also on the decline. In Canadian men, declines in incidence rates have been noted for testicular and stomach cancer, among others.

Risks and prevention

Some of the risk factors listed by the Society for developing cancer include exposure to the sun, tobacco use, an unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and excess body weight.

Logan said that people can do little things every day that will help reduce the risk of developing cancer.

"Things like maintaining a healthy body weight, being physical active and eating a diet that's rich in high-fibre foods and fruits and vegetables every day."

She said about 60 per cent don't follow the Society's recommendations of five to 10 servings a day of fruits and vegetables, and that about half of Canadians are physically inactive.

However, Logan said the government needs to step in and put mechanisms in place that will make healthy choices easier to make.

"There is policy and legislation that we need put into place to help Canadians make the right choices."

Other 2005 cancer stats:


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