The Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada (CCAC), Canada’s leading non-profit association dedicated to increasing awareness and education of colorectal cancer, supporting patients, and advocating for primary prevention, provincial screening programs as well as equal and timely access to effective treatments to improve patient outcomes earlier today announced findings from the Weighing Quality of Life in Cancer National Survey showing that an alarming 82% of Canadians have been touched closely by cancer and have had a close friend or family member battle cancer, or have done so themselves.

?It is difficult to measure the impact of cancer on Canadians, but this survey is a start, as it tells us that the emotional burden of cancer reaches far beyond the actual prevalence rates,? said Barry Stein, President of the CCAC. ?The Survey also reveals concerns around quality of life and access to treatments in the late-stages of cancer, which tells us that we need to focus our efforts to meet the needs of patients with terminal, end-of-life cancers, particularly where we see high mortality rates, such as colorectal and lung cancer,? added Stein.

Providing Quality of Life at End of Life
Based on 2009 incidence rates, 40 per cent of Canadian women and 45% of men will develop cancer during their lifetimes and an estimated one-in-four Canadians is expected to die from cancer. [1] These rates and today?s Survey data together indicate a need for greater emphasis on providing comfort and quality of life for terminal cancer patients.

Moreover, the Weighing Quality of Life in Cancer Survey demonstrates that Canadians want additional treatment options, even after a terminal cancer diagnosis. When asked what they would spend their time doing if they only had a few more weeks to live, in addition to spending more time with family and friends, 35% of respondents said they would spend that time seeking options that may prolong life and prevent the cancer from progressing.

Canadians are not only concerned about their own health they are also compassionate towards others in need. Quality of life wishes extend to all close friends and family members. Not surprisingly, almost all (87%) of Canadians feel that access to treatments that could prolong life for a few more weeks, with a good quality of life, would be valuable for their loved ones. This number remains high across all groups, even among those respondents without any close experiences with cancer in their lives.

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Access to Care
The Weighing Quality of Life Survey determined that part of maintaining quality of life is also providing greater access to therapies that treat metastatic cancers (late-stage cancer). However, results show regional disparities in the confidence levels of Canadians regarding access to these therapies. More than half of Canadians believe that where you live in Canada impacts your quality of treatment when diagnosed with cancer. In fact, only four-in-10 Canadians indicate that they are very confident that their province is providing as much quality cancer treatment as other provinces in Canada.

The Survey also shows that Canadians are concerned about provincial drug coverage, as 82% of Canadians believe that it is at least somewhat difficult to get access to the most current quality of life treatments from their province. When asked if Canadians would consider traveling outside their province for treatment, respondents indicated that they would prefer to seek cancer treatment in their home province. However, seven-in-10 Canadians indicated that they would travel out of province or country to seek treatment to extend their life by weeks or months.

?Providing access to quality treatments, especially during late stage cancer, should be a top priority for healthcare authorities across Canada,? said Dr. Scot Dowden, Medical Oncologist at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre in Calgary. ?Comfort and quality of life are of utmost importance for patients and loved ones. It is important for medical professional and healthcare authorities to continue to weigh options for patients and make treatment decisions based on the personal needs and wishes of patients.?

Addressing the Needs of Patients with Colorectal Cancer
Colorectal cancer has a significant impact on Canadians, affecting almost one-in-five or 17% of Survey participants. ?This is a burdensome type of cancer,? said Stein. ?It spreads quickly, and unfortunately we see many patients proceed to the metastatic or terminal stage. While there is no cure currently available, there are treatments that can improve quality of life for patients with terminal colorectal cancer ? patients and caregivers should speak with their physician about the best available treatment options during the final weeks of life.?

Colorectal cancer ? cancer of the colon or rectum ? is the second-leading cause of cancer death in Canada.[2] Though highly preventable and curable when detected early, in 2010 it was estimated that 22,500 Canadians would be diagnosed with colorectal cancer and sadly 9,100 individuals would die of it. [2] An almost equal number of men and women are affected by colorectal cancer. [2] One-in-14 men and one-in-16 women are expected to develop the disease during their lifetime. One-in-27 men and one-in-31 women will die from it. [2]

Survey Methodology
Data collection and analysis were performed by CICIC, a full service marketing research firm based in Montreal. The survey was conducted online with a representative sample of 1,001 Canadians aged 18 and over, weighted to be representative by gender, age and region for Canada, between January 18th and January 19th, 2011. Respondents were recruited via a double opt-in panel.

The Survey was issued by the CCAC and made possible through an unrestricted educational grant from Amgen Canada.

For more information:

[1] Canadian Cancer Society. Canadian cancer statistics. Last Accessed February 2011.
[2] Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada. Statistical Facts . Last Accessed February 2011.

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