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Weighing Quality of Life in Cancer - National Survey Results


Quality of life in cancer is a complex issue that encompasses social, economic and cultural components. It is also an issue that stirs difficult dilemmas in most households and families.

The CCAC’s Weighing Quality of Life in Cancer survey shows that 80 percent of Canadians have been touched by cancer–either personally or through a close friend or family member. Based on 2009 incidence rates, over four Canadians out of ten will develop cancer during their lifetime.

When faced with various cancer treatments, patients must assess the benefits and drawbacks of their options. The economic context and limited availability of healthcare services only exacerbate the ambivalence in making such a life altering decision.

Data collection and analysis were performed by CICIC, a full service marketing research firm based in Montreal. For this report, the results of the Weighing Quality of Life Cancer survey were analyzed by gender, age and region. For key questions, further segments were scrutinized and key differences were highlighted. In order to determine significant differences, T-Tests and Z-Tests were applied (with 90 percent and 95 percent confidence levels) on means and percentages respectively.

What did we learn?

A few highlights:

  • Canadians are worried about being diagnosed with cancer. According to this survey, 84 per cent of respondents are either very concerned or concerned about this possibility. Of course, those who know someone with cancer are more concerned than those who do not.
  • The number one concern for those affected by cancer is the ability to get government benefits to compensate them for treatment costs, lost wages, and lost wages for their caregiver
  • When asked what they would spend their time doing if they only had a few more weeks to live, in addition to spending more time with family and friends, 44 per cent of respondents said they would spend that time seeking options in hopes of survival, and 35 per cent of respondents specifically mentioned they would seek out options that may prolong life and prevent the cancer from progressing
  • More than two Canadians out of three would be prepared to travel out of province to access a cancer treatment therapy not yet available in their province.

Learn more about our results

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Read our official press release

Cancer Hits Close to Home for 82 per cent of Canadians, According to New National Survey

MONTREAL, March 30 /CNW/ - The Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada (CCAC) today announced findings from the Weighing Quality of Life in Cancer National Survey showing that an alarming 82 per cent of Canadians have been touched closely by cancer and have had a close friend or family member battle cancer, or have done so themselves.

"It is difficult to measure the impact of cancer on Canadians, but this survey is a start, as it tells us that the emotional burden of cancer reaches far beyond the actual prevalence rates," said Barry Stein, President of the CCAC. "The Survey also reveals concerns around quality of life and access to treatments in the late-stages of cancer, which tells us that we need to focus our efforts to meet the needs of patients with terminal, end-of-life cancers, particularly where we see high mortality rates, such as colorectal and lung cancer," added Stein.

Providing Quality of Life at End of Life

Based on 2009 incidence rates, 40 per cent of Canadian women and 45 per cent of men will develop cancer during their lifetimes and an estimated one-in-four Canadians is expected to die from cancer.1 These rates and today’s Survey data together indicate a need for greater emphasis on providing comfort and quality of life for terminal cancer patients.

Moreover, the Weighing Quality of Life in Cancer Survey demonstrates that Canadians want additional treatment options, even after a terminal cancer diagnosis. When asked what they would spend their time doing if they only had a few more weeks to live, in addition to spending more time with family and friends, 35 per cent of respondents said they would spend that time seeking options that may prolong life and prevent the cancer from progressing.

Canadians are not only concerned about their own health they are also compassionate towards others in need. Quality of life wishes extend to all close friends and family members. Not surprisingly, almost all (87 per cent) of Canadians feel that access to treatments that could prolong life for a few more weeks, with a good quality of life, would be valuable for their loved ones. This number remains high across all groups, even among those respondents without any close experiences with cancer in their lives.

Access to Care

The Weighing Quality of Life Survey determined that part of maintaining quality of life is also providing greater access to therapies that treat metastatic cancers (late-stage cancer). However, results show regional disparities in the confidence levels of Canadians regarding access to these therapies. More than half of Canadians believe that where you live in Canada impacts your quality of treatment when diagnosed with cancer. In fact, only four-in-10 Canadians indicate that they are very confident that their province is providing as much quality cancer treatment as other provinces in Canada.

The Survey also shows that Canadians are concerned about provincial drug coverage, as 82 per cent of Canadians believe that it is at least somewhat difficult to get access to the most current quality of life treatments from their province. When asked if Canadians would consider traveling outside their province for treatment, respondents indicated that they would prefer to seek cancer treatment in their home province. However, seven-in-10 Canadians indicated that they would travel out of province or country to seek treatment to extend their life by weeks or months.

"Providing access to quality treatments, especially during late stage cancer, should be a top priority for healthcare authorities across Canada," said Dr. Scot Dowden, Medical Oncologist at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre in Calgary. "Comfort and quality of life are of utmost importance for patients and loved ones. It is important for medical professional and healthcare authorities to continue to weigh options for patients and make treatment decisions based on the personal needs and wishes of patients."

Addressing the Needs of Patients with Colorectal Cancer

Colorectal cancer has a significant impact on Canadians, affecting almost one-in-five or 17 per cent of Survey participants. "This is a burdensome type of cancer," said Stein. "It spreads quickly, and unfortunately we see many patients proceed to the metastatic or terminal stage. While there is no cure currently available, there are treatments that can improve quality of life for patients with terminal colorectal cancer - patients and caregivers should speak with their physician about the best available treatment options during the final weeks of life."

Colorectal cancer - cancer of the colon or rectum - is the second-leading cause of cancer death in Canada.2 Though highly preventable and curable when detected early, in 2010 it was estimated that 22,500 Canadians would be diagnosed with colorectal cancer and sadly 9,100 individuals would die of it.2 An almost equal number of men and women are affected by colorectal cancer.2 One-in-14 men and one-in-16 women are expected to develop the disease during their lifetime. One-in-27 men and one-in-31 women will die from it.2

Survey Methodology

Data collection and analysis were performed by CICIC, a full service marketing research firm based in Montreal. The survey was conducted online with a representative sample of 1,001 Canadians aged 18 and over, weighted to be representative by gender, age and region for Canada, between January 18th and January 19th, 2011. Respondents were recruited via a double opt-in panel. The Survey was issued by the CCAC and made possible through an unrestricted educational grant from AMGEN Canada.

SOURCES
  1. Canadian Cancer Society. Accessed February 2011. http://www.cancer.ca/Canada-wide/About%20cancer/Cancer%20statistics/Stats%20at%20a%20glance/General%20cancer%20stats.aspx?sc_lang=en
  2. Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada. Accessed February 2011. http://www.colorectal-cancer.ca/en/just-the-facts/colorectal/

About the CCAC

The Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada is the country’s leading non-profit association dedicated to increasing awareness and education of colorectal cancer, supporting patients, and advocating for primary prevention, provincial screening programs as well as equal and timely access to effective treatments to improve patient outcomes.

For further information:

Collin Matanowitsch

GCI Group (Canada) 416.486.7224 collin.matanowitsch@gcicanada.com