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Cystic fibrosis cases in Saskatchewan on the rise, according to new report

Click to play video 'Cystic fibrosis cases in Saskatchewan on the rise, according to new report' Cystic fibrosis cases in Saskatchewan on the rise, according to new report
WATCH: Cystic fibrosis cases are on the rise in Saskatchewan, and a new report is looking at possible reasons why.

Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a genetic chronic illness causing lung disease, and people affected by it have a vigorous routine to maintain their quality of life.

Cases of the disease have significantly increased in Saskatchewan in recent years, according to a new report released Tuesday.

The study shows the CF population is growing faster than the province’s overall population.

Read more: Cystic Fibrosis Canada asks Saskatchewan for help in advocating potential life-saving drug

The Canadian Cystic Fibrosis Treatment Society (CCFTS) examined two different sources for the report.

First, caseloads of CF patients receiving assistance under the Saskatchewan Aids to Independent Living (SAIL) program were found to have increased. Between 2010 and 2019, caseloads increased from 130 to 155, or about 19.2 per cent.

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Next, the report looked at the number of Saskatchewan patients listed in the annual Canadian Cystic Fibrosis registry. The province’s CF population grew from 112 to 128, or 14.3 per cent, between 2014 and 2018.

Read more: Lawn signs honour families affected by cystic fibrosis as fundraising, advocacy move online

Saskatoon Adult Cystic Fibrosis Clinic director Dr. Julian Tam has seen an increase in patients in recent years, as well.

“I do think that it is meaningful and important for the policymakers to plan ahead for the future as the numbers grow in our province,” Tam said.

He said there’s a couple of reasons for the increase in CF cases, including more people being tested, more people moving into the province and better treatments allowing people with the disease to live longer.

But although better treatments have been created, some people with CF in Saskatchewan don’t have easy access to them

Click to play video 'One Saskatoon family is asking for Canada to develop a rare disease strategy for Canada' One Saskatoon family is asking for Canada to develop a rare disease strategy for Canada
One Saskatoon family is asking for Canada to develop a rare disease strategy for Canada

Twelve-year-old Cassidy Evans has CF and advocates for others with the disease. She has raised over $100,000 for CF research and has also connected with premier Scott Moe and health minister Jim Reiter, asking for more support for people with rare diseases in the province.

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“This really is crucial and I won’t as a parent stop fighting for this until it happens because I want it for Cassidy and I want it for all of the adults and children who are battling this disease,” Cassidy’s mother Kimberly Evans said.

CCFTS founder Chris MacLeod hopes the new report will raise awareness of the disease, and thinks access to treatments for CF should be a topic of discussion in the upcoming provincial election.