CancerCare Manitoba
News Item

June 29, 2010

Comprehensive report reveals progress in fight against cancer and identifies areas that need attention

Reveals need for strengthened systematic approach to achieve improvements

Winnipeg, June 29, 2010 - CancerCare Manitoba?s five year Community Health Assessment (CHA) provides a comprehensive look at how cancer is affecting Manitobans as well as the system that supports them. Released today, the report focuses on the key areas of cancer control - prevention, access, and outcomes - and based on performance system indicators in these areas, the overall picture of cancer care and control in Manitoba is satisfactory, but there is room for improvement.

"One thing this report clearly shows is the need for collective action and that everyone needs to take responsibility in tackling this disease. None of us alone can change the course of cancer in Manitoba, but together we can," said Dr. Dhali Dhaliwal, President and CEO, CancerCare Manitoba. "We now know there are considerable variations in the cancer risk factors, access and outcomes throughout the province so we know where the weaknesses are and where we need to focus our resources."

Dr. Dhaliwal noted the comprehensive report provides an excellent, high level view of the state of cancer in the province. Key findings include:
  • Manitoba's patterns of incidence by cancer type are comparable to other provinces. Cancer rates are often highest in eastern Canada and lowest in the west. Statistically, Manitoba is in the middle.
  • Screening is an important part of a healthy lifestyle and some Manitoba communities have embraced cancer screening more than others. Higher uptake is found in the southwest corner of the province, with lower participation in the North.
  • Manitoba's colorectal cancer screening rates are the highest in the country reflecting the Province's commitment to implement an organized screening program.
  • Where screening programs are high, cancer is detected earlier and at a more treatable stage.
  • The highest proportion of people diagnosed with late stage colorectal cancer and prostate cancer are in the North.
  • Awareness and participation in breast screening programs has resulted in low rates of late stage breast cancer - around 5% - and that corresponds with a survival rate approaching 90%.
  • Access to cancer treatment continues to improve, with radiation therapy waits the lowest in Canada.
  • Cancer rates in the rural south are relatively low, consistent with lower risk factors like smoking and alcohol consumption.
  • Manitoba outcomes (incidence, mortality and survival) remain stable, in line with other jurisdictions. Manitoba has seen a significant decrease in the incidence of prostate cancer, and has the highest/best survival rate for lung cancer in Canada.
  • Over 95% of patients reported being satisfied with care.

The report also reveals there are serious challenges ahead for cancer services if current risk factors do not improve. Most of the increase in new cancer cases over the last 20 years is due to the aging population and, in common with the rest of the country, Manitoba's aging population will be the single largest contributor to the expected increase in cases in the future.

CancerCare Manitoba has looked at the statistical information closely and projects that the province will be facing a 50% increase in the number of new cancer cases over the next 15 to 20 years, which is similar to predictions in other jurisdictions. This emphasizes the need to take aggressive action to reduce risk factors and make positive lifestyle choices related to physical activity, diet, smoking and alcohol intake as well as participation in screening programs.

"This report provides us with a great deal of information which will inform and educate us as to what our strategic priorities should be going forward," said Dr. Donna Turner, Epidemiologist and Provincial Director, Population Oncology. "If we can measure what we are doing, we can change it and we are measuring more about cancer in Manitoba than ever before."

"This report will direct our strategic plan for the next five years for cancer services. We can see what the future holds and it is clear that we as a society must take action and make changes to how we choose to live. We need to stop smoking, eat healthier, get in shape, be sun smart and get checked at the appropriate times, said Dr. Dhaliwal, adding our partners, including Manitoba Health and Healthy Living, the Regional Health Authorities, and the CancerCare Manitoba Foundation, have recognized the need to promote awareness around these issues. "But all the partners and indeed all Manitobans, have to take responsibility to reduce the impact of this disease."

Information contained in the report examines cancer risk factors, screening participation rates, access to care and treatment, patient satisfaction and cancer trends over time. The report also shows there are variations in service across the province. Challenges of geography, type of cancer and patient choice contribute to these variations.

To view the report online, visit:

For more information, please contact:
Roberta Koscielny
Communications Coordinator, Population Oncology
CancerCare Manitoba
204-787-1677 or

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