On this year’s World Cancer Day, February 4th, Cancer Care Ontario launched two new cancers to their year-old online cancer risk assessment tool, My CancerIQ. Now, in addition to breast, cervical, colorectal and lung cancer, you can also assess your risk for kidney cancer and melanoma at MyCancerIQ.ca.
Based on data from the Ontario Cancer Registry, for the period 2011 to 2012, the incidence rate for melanoma was 18.4 for every 100,000 people and the rate for kidney cancer was 12.5 for every 100,000 people. In Northwestern Ontario, the incidence of melanoma was significantly below the provincial average at 11.9 for every 100,000 people, while incidence for kidney cancer was the same as the provincial average. However, the incidence of both cancers is on the rise in Ontario.
While specific cancer rates vary across the province, what all of the cancers included in the My CancerIQ tool have in common is that they have modifiable risk factors that can be affected by lifestyle. For example, in Northwestern Ontario, breast, colorectal and lung cancer rates are higher than their respective provincial averages, and all three have modifiable risk factors that we can learn about using My CancerIQ.
“Some of the increased rates of breast, colorectal and lung cancers have been attributed to higher rates of unhealthy lifestyle habits in our region. The good news is that there are several changes that people can make to decrease their risk of these cancers, in addition to other cancers and chronic diseases,” explains Dr. Nicole Zavagnin, Northwest Regional Primary Care Lead. “Some healthy changes that people can focus on include: maintaining a healthy weight, eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, not smoking or quitting smoking if you presently smoke, and not consuming excess alcohol. Even if a person has a family history, or other non-modifiable risk factors, these measures can help to decrease their overall risk.”
My CancerIQ is a comprehensive, evidence-based assessment that is confidential, quick and easy to use. “It allows people to gain a better understanding of the risk factors associated with different types of cancers, and can empower individuals to be more proactive about their health and assist them in lowering their cancer risk,” explains Zavagnin.
Since the launch of My CancerIQ in early 2015, more than 146,000 Ontarians have learned about their cancer risk and how to lower it. With the addition of melanoma and kidney cancer, Cancer Care Ontario wants to help Ontarians better understand how to reduce their risk. It is estimated that as many as half of all cancers in Ontario could be prevented by eliminating known risk factors.
Specifically, to reduce the risk of kidney cancer, Ontarians should maintain a healthy blood pressure, bodyweight and avoid smoking. To reduce the risk of melanoma, Ontarians should enjoy the sun safely, avoid tanning equipment and know their skin so they can recognize changes or the need for a skin examination.
To find out more about kidney cancer and melanoma risk factors, visit MyCancerIQ.ca to complete the cancer risk assessments, get your personalized action plans and share and discuss your plans you’re your families and healthcare providers. My CancerIQ can be accessed from a smartphone, tablet or desktop.