Cancer is the biggest health crisis of our lifetime and today. With the growth and aging of our population it is estimated that the number of new cancer cases in British Columbia will grow by 35% over the next decade: from 29,000 in 2020 to 39,000 in 2030.
Current research indicates that with a few simple tools, a staggering 50 per cent of cancers could be prevented. Yet cancer prevention remains under-researched, under-applied and underfunded. This must change.
Rather than applying broad strategies to the general population, BC Cancer’s prevention program takes a highly-individualized approach to the health and well-being of each person in the province, based on their age, lifestyle, genetic profile and family history.
With a strong emphasis on risk assessment, reduction and screening, the program will revitalize health care in British Columbia by stopping cancer before it starts. It will save lives.
The surest way to save lives is to stop cancer before it even starts. BC Cancer Prevention Team aims to reduce cancer risk for all British Columbians.
Director of prevention
Dr. Parveen Bhatti, senior scientist and director of prevention at BC Cancer studies occupational and environmental factors that contribute to cancer, and launched a clinical trial to test melatonin supplements as a natural way of reducing risk of cancer in shift workers who are at an increased risk of developing cancer due to their sleep patterns.
Ovarian cancer team’s bold mission
Dr. David Huntsman, co-founder and director of OVCARE (ovarian cancer research team), BC Cancer, and his team are developing tools to clearly and quickly identify key risk factors for ovarian cancer. Their goal is to cut ovarian cancer incidences in half.
Looking at lung cancer in “never-smokers”
Dr. Stephen Lam, chair of the Provincial Lung Tumour Group, BC Cancer, is studying “never-smokers” who develop lung cancer, looking for patterns in their life and family history, and analyzing environmental factors to better understand how their cancer was triggered.
Hereditary cancer screening
BC Cancer’s Hereditary Cancer Program is screening patients with advanced cancers for hereditary factors. If an inherited cause is discovered, their family members can also get screened and take steps to protect themselves from developing cancer.
Screening programs apply a relatively simple, inexpensive test to a large number of people in order to identify those with cancer risk factors, or who have the disease in its early stages. Screens are used for the types of cancers that when detected early, can reduce deaths.
BC Cancer provides screening programs for:
Screening is conducted across the province at the regional cancer centres, local hospitals and clinics. Click here for more information on screening at BC Cancer.
BC Cancer’s Oral Cancer Prevention Program works with dentists and dental hygienists in our communities to prevent the development of oral cancer, and to detect it at the earliest possible stage.
A lung cancer screening policy for the province is currently being considered, focusing on early detection of lung and bronchial cancer. For more information, please visit the Lung Health Study website.
Knowledge of the risks associated with smoking and diet are widespread: smokers have an increased risk of many cancers and a greater than 10-fold risk of dying of lung cancer. Obesity, the result of poor diet and sedentary living, is associated with an 80% increase in overall cancer mortality.
Beyond this, very few individuals are aware of steps they can take to address the common risk factors for a wide spectrum of other cancers.
Although B.C. currently has population based screening programs for cervical, breast and colorectal cancer, only 60% of people who would benefit from these programs participate. This is a significant missed opportunity.
Studies show that:
Our ability to prevent cancer has never been greater. The time is now to take action.
With your support, BC Cancer scientists can better understand the root causes of cancer, and how we can prevent it in the first place. The program will affect change to the health and well-being of British Columbians on a massive scale.