Canada, a leading exporter of asbestos, has announced a nationwide initiative that is designed to give cancer researchers and health officials improved access to research data. Known as the National Staging Initiative, the project will serve to enhance the sharing and cooperation of cancer research across all provinces and territories.
Specifically, the initiative will focus on the collective gathering of staging information for prostate cancer, colorectal cancer, breast cancer and lung cancer. These four cancers are the most common cancer types in Canada (94,600 new cases of these cancers are estimated to occur within the country for the 2010 year).
The Canadian Partnership Against Cancer worked cooperatively with the Canadian Association of Provincial Cancer Agencies to create the initiative. Collectively, the organizations have pledged $20 million towards the campaign.
Labeled as an initiative that is “first of its kind,” Canada’s Federal Health Administrator, Leona Aglukkaq, states, “The national staging initiative will generate better data and better evidence which will improve the cancer system and ultimately save lives.”
Staging is the process of assessing how far along a particular case of cancer has progressed. Recommended treatment options vary depending on which stage a patient’s cancer has progressed. As such, a nationwide collection of staging info provides researchers with a deeper well of data that can be used to more easily identify trends within cancer populations.
According to Caroline Heick, VP of knowledge management at the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer, “This information plays an important role in helping health system planners answer questions like ‘Are screening programs effective in saving Canadians’ lives?’ and ‘Which treatments are helping people live longer?”
Staging data will be collectively pooled for all patients diagnosed with one of the four cancers on or after January 1, 2010. Data related to the initiative is estimated to be available in 2012.