Cancer prevention and care

How to prevent and get help for cancer through Ontario’s health system.

Learn your cancer risk. You can take action against cancer.

 

Visit MyCancerIQ.ca to:

  • assess your personal risk of developing breast, cervical, colorectal or lung cancer
  • build an individual risk profile
  • create a customized health action plan to reduce your risk
  • compare your level of risk to others

Screen for cancer

Early stages of cancer can be difficult to see or feel. Regular screening can find cancers sooner, so you get treatment faster. In Ontario, our core screening programs are free. This is because studies show these tests really do save many lives.

Free cancer screening

Cancer screening tests

Your health care provider can recommend several tests to screen for different cancer types. Depending on what you are at risk for, your health care provider may recommend that you complete a:

  • fecal occult blood test (colon cancer)
  • mammogram (breast cancer)
  • pap test (cervical cancer)

Other screening available

Your doctor may or may not suggest regular screening for other cancers, such as prostate cancer. There may be a small fee for these tests.

When you should screen

Use the tool to find out when you should screen for breast, cervical or colorectal cancer.

Time to screen tool

Diagnosis

Most cancers are diagnosed by a surgeon and a pathologist. Family doctors also play an important role in helping patients through all phases of the cancer journey.

Get your diagnosis

Ontario has Diagnostic Assessment Programs (DAPs) for thoracic (lung), prostate and colorectal cancers. These programs bring teams of doctors together to give patients a diagnosis.

Benefits include:

  • helps doctors put together a complete care plan for you
  • shortens your wait times
  • can help slow the speed of your cancer

Treatment

There are 3 main ways to treat cancer:

  1. surgery
  2. cancer drugs (chemotherapy)
  3. radiation

Surgery is for the removal of tumours. Chemotherapy and radiation is used to stop or slow the growth of cancer cells.

The course of your treatment will be determined not only by the type and stage of cancer, but also by what treatments and services you choose.

Survival rates

Survival rates in Ontario have greatly improved for the most common cancers:

  • almost all prostate cancer patients and about 90% of breast cancer patients are living more than 5 years after diagnosis
  • cancer mortality rates in the province are expected to decline in the next 10 years by 11% for men and 6% for women
  • by the year 2017, it is projected that the number of Ontarians who will be living with cancer diagnoses within the past 10 years will be about 400,000 - this is a 40% increase from 2004

Tips to prevent cancer

  • eat a well-balanced diet (lots of fruit and vegetables and high-fibre, lower-fat foods)
  • maintain a healthy body weight
  • reduce alcohol intake
  • be physically active
  • don't smoke
  • avoid direct sunlight and wear sunscreen when outdoors
  • see your doctor for regular check-ups

Tell your doctor about:

  • any close family members who have had cancer
  • any unusual swellings or lumps
  • any changes in your overall health

Your doctor can determine if you should begin screening.

Find a doctor

You can find a family doctor or nurse practitioner through the Health Care Connect program:

Find a family doctor or nurse practitioner

Updated: February 25, 2015