I subscribe to The Daily, from Statistics Canada, and was intrigued earlier this week when they announced that Canadian Cancer Statistics 2018 would be released the following day. This was the first time I remembered seeing StatsCan announce that something would be released, rather than that something had been released. Also, I couldn't recall a time when had they pointed to another organization, and not to their own content.
I expected to find a simple spreadsheet or two containing numbers around cancer, so was confused to see that it seemed to be much more of a complete information package, including a Media Release page. So I checked it out, and I must say I was thoroughly impressed! This is a very well-written report, easily understood by laypeople, yet meaty enough to be of interest to physicians and others who have been paying a lot more attention to cancer than I have. Early on in the report they do an excellent job explaining how the stages of cancer (the main focus of this special report) are classified, and I now feel I have a much better understanding of this system. It's not hard; I just never paid attention.
The report itself is only about 25 pages (PDF), though is double that including appendices, references and such. Each section of the report does an excellent job of describing what's being presented, why, and how to interpret the results. I was pleased to see lots of information, again well-presented, at the end of the report on where to go for those statistics I had initially sought. They include a shorter version of this PPT presentation that describes how to use CANSIM, StatsCanada's socio-economic database, which I'll probably borrow for other presentations I do.
So why am I bothering to come out of hibernation to write a blog post on cancer? Not for me, but for you. Well, all of us. I hadn't realized until reading this report that nearly 50% of Canadians (and possibly Americans / humans?) will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime (holy crap!), and that cancer is the leading cause of death in this country. But I also learned that regardless of the type of cancer, our chances of living are far greater if the cancer is diagnosed early, in stage I or II. Nobody likes tests, but hey, if you're approaching or are over the age of 50, do yourself and your loved ones a favour by asking your doctor what screening tests can be done. Here's some background on screening for Canadians and Americans.