Cancer remains the leading cause of death among Canadians. The Canadian Cancer Society, in partnership with Statistics Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada, released the annual 2015 Canadian Cancer Statistics report in May. This report provides comprehensive statistical information on cancer in Canada, including incidence, mortality and relative survival rates. These statistics are vital to the progress and promise of cancer research, by informing health professionals, policy leaders, and researchers to help improve the quality of life for cancer patients and survivors and reduce cancer incidence and mortality rates.
While the number of cancer cases is on the rise, the survival rates continue to improve compared to what was observed over 10 years ago. Unique to this year’s report is an inclusion of a section on the future burden of cancer in Canada – in fact, it is expected that the Canadian cancer incidence rate, or the annual number of new cancer cases, will rise 79% by 2028-2032 in comparison to the rates from 2003-2007! While our aging population is the main factor for this dramatic anticipated increase in cancer rates, this report highlights the importance of expanding our cancer research efforts in order to further understand the complexities of the different diseases that make up cancer, which will ultimately lead to earlier diagnosis and new treatment advances for the growing number of people diagnosed with cancer.
Researchers at the Queen’s Cancer Research Institute (QCRI) in Kingston, Ontario are actively exploring various aspects of cancer research, including understanding basic cancer biology, performing relevant cancer clinical trials, and conducting cancer etiology (causes) studies at the population level. QCRI researchers share hopes of developing novel prevention, detection and treatment options for cancer.
One such researcher is Dr. Christopher Mueller, who is currently working on developing a blood-based cancer detection test that will allow for earlier and more accurate diagnosis of cancer in the near future. The Queen’s campus is also home to the NCIC Clinical Trials Group, consisting of researchers, clinicians, and biostatisticians, among others, that develops and conducts cancer clinical trials across Canada, and internationally.
Ongoing cancer research efforts at Queen’s University, across Canada, and globally, will hopefully allow us to effectively combat the anticipated future burden of cancer in Canada.
For full access to the Canadian Cancer Statistics publication, please check out the Canadian Cancer Society’s website: cancer.ca/statistics.
This article is written by Piriya Yoganathan, a PhD candidate in the Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine, and part of the Collaborative Graduate Program in Cancer Research at Queen’s University.