Local cancer survival rates improve but still trail provincial averages
An annual report on cancer care in the province shows that local breast, colon and lung cancer five-year survival rates have improved but are still below the provincial average.
The report card gives an overview of cancer care for the Hamilton Niagara Haldimand Brant Local Health Integrated Network (LHIN).
The Hamilton Niagara Haldimand Brant Regional Cancer Program also covers Burlington and Norfolk.
The report, prepared by the Cancer Quality Council of Ontario, indicates there is an 85 per cent local survival rate for breast cancer, compared to 89 per cent provincially; 66 per cent for colon cancer, compared to 67 per cent provincially; and 18 per cent for lung cancer, compared to 21 per cent provincially.
“We’re moving in the right direction but we still want to see those numbers improve,” said Dr. Ralph Meyer, vice president of oncology and palliative care for Hamilton Health Sciences and regional vice president for Cancer Care Ontario.
The local five-year survival rate for prostate cancer met the provincial average of 95 per cent.
The report card also gave the Hamilton Niagara Haldimand Brant Regional Cancer Program top marks for timely follow-up of abnormal colon cancer screening tests with a colonoscopy to identify and treat colon cancer.
“When caught early, nine out of every 10 people with this disease can be cured,” said Meyer. “However, if colon cancer is caught after it has spread to other parts of the body, treating it can be more difficult and it’s less likely to be cured.
“For people whose colon cancer has spread, as few as one out of eight will be cured.”
Established in 2012, the Cancer Quality Council of Ontario is an arm’s-length advisory group to Cancer Care Ontario.
It was set up to provide advice to Cancer Care Ontario and the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care in their efforts to improve the quality of cancer care in the province.
The council is composed of cancer survivors and family members, and experts in the areas of oncology, health system policy, performance measurement, health services research and health care governance.
The Regional Cancer Program also wants to see more residents take advantage of free breast, cervical and colon cancer screening programs offered by the province.
Regionally, screening rates have improved for colon cancer, remained stable for breast cancer and declined for cervical cancer, which reflects a provincial trend in Pap testing.
Improvements to colon cancer screening will include the introduction in Ontario of the fecal immunochemical test (FIT) to replace the existing screening tool called the fecal occult blood test.
The Hamilton Niagara Haldimand Brant LHIN includes a population of 1,456,304 of which 41 per cent are over the age of 50, compared to 38 per cent provincially.
There are higher rates of smoking, alcohol consumption and obesity in the region, compared to the provincial average.
The report card predicts the region will see just over 10,300 new cancer cases in 2017 and 3,900 deaths.
The Hamilton Niagara Brant Regional Cancer Program serves the second largest LHIN in the province.