The BC Cancer Foundation is raising awareness about the number one health issue facing British Columbians, ahead of World Cancer Day.
This year's World Cancer Day theme, which is coming up on Feb. 4, is "Close the Care Gap" and is aimed at improving cancer care accessibility and research across the province.
President and CEO of the BC Cancer Foundation Sarah Roth, shared stats, based on a study that says over the next 10 years, cancer diagnoses in the B.C. Interior are predicted to rise by 17 per cent to over 7,100 community members by 2031.
British Columbians have a 60 per cent chance of getting cancer in their lifetime.
Genetic and environmental risks play a part in cancer causers, 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, said Roth.
Just over a year ago, the foundation partnered with the Ministry of Health to raise $12 million to bring PET-CT scans to Kelowna and Victoria.
Prior to that, the only PET-CT scan in B.C. was located in Vancouver and people would have to travel there in order to get a full diagnosis.
Roth says the PET-CT scan is a finer image than a regular CT scan and detects exactly where the cancer is in the body, and offers more information about the cancer.
In its first year in Kelowna, the PET-CT scan conducted 2,400 scans and Victoria had a similar number in its first year as well.
Lung cancer is the number one cancer in both men and women, says Roth, and despite the stigma, she noted there has been a rise in non-smoking diagnoses.
“There’s not enough research going into this, because of the stigma and people believing it’s most common in smokers,” said Roth.
The province is now hosting the first lung screening tests in Canada, called the Breath Test, which will detect potential lung cancer.
The research is still in its early stages, says Roth and is beginning by testing smokers and will then move on to non-smokers.
“70 per cent of lung cancer cases are caught in the most advanced stages,” says Roth.
The BC Cancer Foundation also funds BC Cancer Kelowna’s Patient and Family emergency fund, to help with costs related to cancer treatments.
Roth advised that World Cancer Day should act as a reminder to monitor your body for any signs of what could be cancer.
“Do your screening, don’t be lazy,” said Roth.