There are adverse differences in cancer incidence (new cases), cancer prevalence (all existing cases), cancer death (mortality), cancer survivorship, and burden of cancer or related health conditions that exist among specific population groups.
A close look at cancer incidence and death statistics reveals that certain groups suffer disproportionately from cancer and its associated effects, including premature death. Among these affected populations is the Black community. This is particularly relevant for breast, cervical, prostate and colon cancers.
What is Cancer Screening?
Cancer screening is testing that looks for cancer. Screening helps find cancer early when it is easier to treat or cure. Cancer screening should be done when you are healthy and have no symptoms.
Why is Cancer Screening Important?
- There are often no early warning symptoms of cancer.
- Most people who develop cancer have no family history of the disease.
- Cancer is the most common cause of death in Canada.
- Studies have shown that people of African descent are at increased risk of dying from breast and prostate cancer, compared to the general population. And Black women are more likely to develop cervical cancer.
- Your risk of developing cancer increases with age. The greatest risk is for those 50 years and over.
Cancer Screening Guidelines
Colon Cancer Screening
Men and women 50 years and over need to be screened for colon cancer. This includes a fecal occult blood test every two years.*
Breast Cancer Screening
Women 50 years and over need to be screened for breast cancer. This includes a mammogram every 2 years.*
Cervical Cancer Screening
Women aged 21 to 69 who have ever been sexually active need to be screened for cervical cancer. This includes having a regular pap test every 3 years.*
Prostate Cancer Screening
Men over the age of 50 should discuss their prostate cancer risk with their provider. Black men are at increased risk. Screening includes a digital rectal exam and a prostate specific antigen (PSA) test. The PSA test is free for Black men or men with a family history of prostate cancer.
**Talk to your doctor or nurse practitioner about these tests and your family history. You may need to be screened earlier, or tested more often, or you may require different tests (e.g. colonoscopy or MRI) depending on your family history or other health factors.