Point Edward, ON – April is cancer awareness month in Canada. Lambton Public Health, the Sarnia-Lambton Ontario Health Team, and community partners are raising awareness about cancer prevention and the need for continued cancer screening.
This year, cancer prevention and raising awareness is more important than ever due to the demands on the health-care system from COVID-19 pandemic response. All screening programs for breast, cervical and colorectal cancer were suspended across Canada from mid-March to June 2020.
There are three big ways you can lower your risk of cancer – healthier lifestyles, keeping immunizations up-to-date, and routine cancer screening. It is important to know your eligibility and make sure that you complete your cancer screening on a regular basis.
Being proactive with your health should be a number one priority. Everyone has a certain risk of developing cancer. An estimated 2 in 5 Canadians will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime and about 1 in 4 will die from cancer. (Canadian Cancer Statistics 2021)
Routine screenings can find cancer before you’ve noticed symptoms and before it has a chance to spread. Early detection can save lives and protect your health.
“Limited access to a health-care provider may have increased the gap to support the screening process,” says Dr. Sudit Ranade, Medical Officer of Health for the County of Lambton. “Screening involves a number of steps including follow-up tests, diagnostics and potential interventions such as surgeries. The health system COVID-19 pandemic response limited the resources available to support those steps.”
Because of these delays the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) is deeply concerned that we will see cancer cases diagnosed or treated too late. The Journal of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network published a report that found in Ontario, there was a 34 per cent drop in cancer diagnoses during the first waves of COVID-19 in 2020 compared to previous years. As the province opens back up, health-care providers are reintroducing routine cancer screening tests including breast, cervical and colon cancer screening. COVID precautions at clinics and hospitals make it very safe for people to see their medical team for routine screenings and other important tests.
Ontario’s funded cancer screening programs include:
- Cervical cancer screening is available for women aged 25-69. Screening with a Pap test is usually done every 3 years.
- Breast Cancer screening is available for average risk women aged 50-74. Screening with a mammogram is usually done every 2 years.
- Colorectal Cancer screening begins at 50 years of age for average-risk individuals. Screening is usually done with a stool test every 2 years.
If you are due or overdue for breast, cervical or colon cancer screening tests, please contact your health-care provider.
For more information about cancer prevention and options to set up your cancer screening visit Lambton Public Health’s website: https://lambtonpublichealth.ca/health-info/cancer-prevention/. Or visit the Cancer Care Ontario website: https://www.cancercareontario.ca/en/cancer-care-ontario/programs/screening-programs to learn more about Cancer Screening in Ontario.
- Statistics Canada – Survey on Access to Health Care and Pharmaceuticals During the Pandemic, March 2020 to May 2021
- National Comprehensive Cancer Network – Incident Cancer Detection During the COVID-19 Pandemic
- Cancer Care Ontario – Get Checked for Cancer
- Canadian Cancer Society – COVID-19 response
- Canadian Family Physician – The pandemic and cervical cancer screening
- Obstetrics and Genecology – The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Ontario Cervical Screening Program, colposcopy and treatment services in Ontario, Canada: a population-based study