The BC Cancer Foundation is raising awareness of the biggest health problem facing British Colombians ahead of World Cancer Day.
This year’s World Cancer Day theme, which comes up on February 4, is “Close the Care Gap” and aims to improve the availability and research of cancer treatment throughout the province.
BC Cancer Foundation President and CEO Sarah Roth shared statistics based on a study that says cancer diagnoses in BC Interior over the next 10 years are expected to increase by 17 percent to over 7,100 community members by 2031.
British Colombians have a 60 percent chance of getting cancer during their lifetime.
Genetic and environmental risks play a role in carcinogens, and Roth also noted that this alarmingly high percentage has to do with the fact that people are now living longer.
There are over 80,000 people in the province living with cancer, Roth said.
Just over a year ago, the foundation teamed up with the Department of Health to raise $ 12 million to bring PET-CT scans to Kelowna and Victoria.
Before that it was the only PET-CT scan in BC located in Vancouver and people would have to travel there to get a complete diagnosis.
Roth says the PET-CT scan is a finer image than a regular CT scan and discovers exactly where the cancer is in the body, providing more information about the cancer.
In its first year in Kelowna, the PET-CT scan performed 2,400 scans, and Victoria also had a similar number in her first year.
Lung cancer is the number one cancer in both men and women, Roth says, and despite the stigma, she noted that there has been an increase in non-smoking diagnoses.
“There’s not enough research into this, because of the stigma and people who think it’s most common in smokers,” Roth said.
The province is now hosting the first lung screening test in Canada, called the Breath Test, which will detect potential lung cancer.
The research is still in its early stages, Roth says, beginning with testing smokers and then moving on to non-smokers.
“70 percent of lung cancer cases are caught in the most advanced stages,” Roth says.
The BC Cancer Foundation also funds the BC Cancer Kelowna’s emergency fund for patient and family, to help with costs related to cancer treatments.
Roth recommended that World Cancer Day should serve as a reminder to monitor your body for signs of what could be cancer.
“Do your screening, do not be lazy,” Roth said.