Early screening is one of the ways to help prevent many types of cancer says Lori Barker, executive director for the P.E.I. Division of the Canadian Cancer Society.

Statistic Canada says new cases of cancer diagnosis have increased 25 to 26 per cent over the last 20 years.

The numbers show the most common type of cancer in men is prostate cancer, and breast cancer among women.That is followed by lung cancer and colorectal cancer for both men and women.

Barker told Compass host Bruce Rainnie the reason for the increase is the aging population.

"As we get older, we tend to see a lot more cancer diagnosis. The reality is if we look forward to 15 years, we are expecting an increase of about 40 per cent of cancer diagnosis" which Barker describes as very significant.

Lori Barker

Lori Barker, executive director for the P.E.I. Division of the Canadian Cancer Society says early screening can help prevent cancer. (CBC)

While that percentage is high, she says there is good news in terms of age-standardized incidence rates declining over the last couple of decades.

"We are making a lot of progress as far as preventing cancer and I think that has to be celebrated and that is thanks, in part, to research."

But while Barker says that is good news, the reality is cancer is a disease of the aged.

"And we have an aging population so we'll be seeing a lot more of that unfortunately."

Barker adds many cancers can be prevented by maintaining a healthy lifestyle, maintaining a healthy body weight, not smoking, and taking other preventative measures including screening.

"Screening for colon cancer and cervical cancer in particular can prevent the onset of cancer to begin with."

Barker said all preventative measures combined are powerful tools. "It's just us, as a population, really embracing some changes in our life to prevent and reduce our own risks."

Barker said the P.E.I. Division of the Canadian Cancer Society has been advocating for a cancer control strategy to have an informed plan on how to address some of the challenges that are being seen. As a result, the provincial government has invested in a cancer epidemiologist

"That's a person who really looks at the cancer rates and understands why we are seeing some of the variances we see here on P.E.I. and can really make recommendations that can really inform that cancer strategy moving forward."