Cancer is a group of 100 + diseases characterized by uncontrolled growth and spread of abnormal cells.  Cells typically grow, work, reproduce and die based on information provided by the genes within the cell.  If this information becomes mixed or inaccurate the cell behaves abnormally.  Groups of abnormal cells can be malignant tumors that invade healthy cells and change the healthy cells information.  Cancer has four major classifications based on the type of affected cell.  Carcinomas are cancers that develop from epithelial cells that line the surface of the body, glands and internal organs.  Sarcomas start from connective tissues such as bones, tendons, cartilage, fat and muscle.  Leukemias arise from the cells in the blood and lymphomas from the immune system.  Most cancers are carcinomas and include breast, prostate, lung, colon, and cervical.

It is estimated that there will be 187600 new cases of cancer and 75500 deaths in Canada utilizing 2013 stats and 16200 new cases and 6300 deaths in Alberta.  Lung cancer is still the leading cause of cancer death in Alberta for both men and women even though Prostate and Breast are both more frequently diagnosed.  Statistics show that 2 in 5 Canadians will be develop cancer in their lifetime with 1 in 4 dieing from cancer.  Those 50 years of age or order will show 88% of all new cases and 60% of the deaths.  Mortality rates have dropped since 1994 for most cancers with 63% of Canadians diagnosed with cancer will survive at least 5 years after the diagnosis.  The most rapid decrease in mortality is in children and adolescents.

The Canadian Cancer Society states that at least 50% of all cancers can be prevented with healthy living and policies that protect the public.  The Society lists the following Steps To Health to reduce your risk: 1) be a non-smoker and avoid second-hand smoke, 2) eat 5-10 servings of fruit and vegetables every day.  Limit alcohol intake to 1-2 drinks per day. 3) ensure you get enough Vitamin D.  4) be physically active on a regular basis: this will also help you maintain a healthy body weight. 5) protect yourself and your family from the sun and do not use tanning beds or lamps. 6) know your family history with cancer and follow cancer screening guidelines. 7) visit your doctor or dentist if you notice any change in your normal state of health. 8) be aware of how hormones can affect your health and increase your chance of cancer, especially the stress hormones.  9) follow health and safety instructions at home and at work when using, storing, and disposing of hazardous materials.

For more information go to the Canadian Cancer Society web site at www.cancer.ca.  There is so much valuable reading on this web site whether you or someone you know has cancer or not.  Other options include…www.cancer.org, www.cancerconnection.ca, www.fightback.ca