Good news and bad news about cancer in Hamilton

Scores well on screening, but survival rates among the worst.
Hamilton's five-year survival rates for breast and lung cancers are amongst the worst in the province. (Julia Chapman/CBC)

Hamilton's cancer program performed well on screening for colorectal cancer and breast cancer screening, emergency department visits following chemotherapy for breast cancer patients and end-of life care, according to a report released this morning.

"Overall, our region’s cancer program is doing well. For the majority of indicators, we’re performing at or above the provincial average and we’re provincial leaders in a number of areas," said Dr. Bill Evans, President of the Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre and Regional Vice-President, Cancer Care Ontario.

However, the report also indicates that more needs to be done in Hamilton Niagara Haldimand Brant to improve five-year survival rates for breast and lung cancers, which are amongst the worst in the province.

Lifestyle habits and the failure of some populations to access screening opportunities are key factors in improving result in the future.

"This LHIN is particularly challenging because of the socio-economic factors unique to this region: a higher proportion of our population has less than high school education, there are significant areas of poverty and we have more people who smoke, drink heavily and are obese," said Dr. Evans.

Cancer will be discussed this morning at the Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre where the eighth annual Cancer System Quality Index (CSQI) results were released for Hamilton, Niagara, Haldimand and Brant.

The CSQI includes the average wait time for cancer surgery and radiation treatment in the last year, and how that compares with the provincial average.

It will look at how satisfied Hamiltonians were when they were treated, and how that compares with the rest of the province, among other data.

The CSQI is released by the Cancer Quality Council of Ontario.  Local data covers the Hamilton Niagara Haldimand Brant Local Health Integration Network (LHIN).

Figures for 2009 show the Hamilton LHIN to be above the provincial average in the number of colon and breast cancer patients who received chemotherapy within 120 days of diagnosis.

Also, more local colon cancer patients got chemotherapy within two months of surgery than the provincial average in 2009.

CBC Hamilton will post the findings today.