Definitions

Age-standardized rates

Age-standardized rates are used in this article when comparing cancer rates over time to remove the effects that an aging population has on the rates. The population age structure of Canada's 1991 Census was used.

Throughout this article, however, the actual rate (not the age-standardized rate) will be used when presenting statistics for a particular point in time, such as the year 2007. For this reason, the numbers cited in the text and in single-year charts (actual rates) may not match the numbers used in charts that display trends over time (age-standardized rates).

Colorectal cancer screening

It is recommended that men and women age 50 to 74 undergo regular colorectal cancer screening. Screening usually involves a stool test (fecal occult blood test or fecal immunochemical test). A positive test may result in the need for further tests such as a colonoscopy or barium enema.

Breast cancer screening

Breast cancer screening guidelines may vary based on risk factors such as age, family history and the province or territory where a woman lives. General recommendations are that women aged 50-69 should have a mammogram at least once every two years.

Prostate cancer screening

Prostate cancer screening uses two tests: the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test and the digital rectal examination (DRE) test. Routine prostate screening using PSA is not recommended for those at average risk because there is no definitive evidence that screening such men without symptoms reduces deaths from prostate cancer. The DRE however is often performed as part of an annual health examination in men over the age of 50.

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