Cancer is an important and well-documented public health issue in industrialized countries. However, cancer information on Canadian Aboriginals is scarce. Some studies have reported that for decades, Aboriginal communities have had lower cancer incidence/mortality rates, but more recent reports show that this has steadily increased. Based on incidence data (from 1985 to 2009) and mortality data (from 2000 to 2009), the current report compares the cancer profile of Eeyou Istchee (Health Region 18) to that of the Rest of Quebec (the province of Quebec without the Eeyou Istchee Health Region). Within Eeyou Istchee, analyses were limited due to the small numbers of cancer cases for each Cree community. Main conclusions were as follow:
1- The numbers of cancers in Eeyou Istchee (EI) have been increasing over the last 20 years because the size of the population has been increasing. However, the rates of cancer have been stable or are decreasing.
2- In comparison to other Quebec health regions, the rates of cancer in Eeyou Istchee are lower for all cancers except kidney cancer. This applied most often to males, as differences between females from Eeyou Istchee and elsewhere were generally not significant
3- Colorectal cancer is increasing and now matches Quebec’s rate.
4- The ratio of mortality to incidence increased in males, from 2000-2004 to 2005-2009, indicating a decrease of the 5-year cancer relative survival rate in EI males.
5- Cree communities tend to have comparable rates of cancer incidence. However, Waskaganish had significantly lower rates compared to expected rates, while Whapmagoostui had significantly higher rates.
The report also suggests some priorities for cancer prevention in Eeyou Istchee. Indeed, available scientific knowledge shows that community programs at the population level and clinical preventive services at the individual level could contribute to lessen the burden of cancer by :a) addressing lifestyle factors like physical inactivity, obesity, smoking, heavy alcohol use, early age at first pregnancy; b) closely following patients and specially male cancer patients; and c) enforcing monitoring and health surveillance activities oriented towards selected risk factors, and health conditions and programs.