About Cancer in Canada
Incidence & Mortality
Cancer strikes males and females, young and old, and those in different regions across Canada on a decidedly uneven basis. This section examines incidence and mortality by sex, age and geographic region to see how cancer affects people in Canada.
Incidence & Mortality
An estimated 187,600 new cases of cancer and 75,500 deaths from cancer will occur in Canada in 2013. (The number of estimated new cases does not include 81,700 new non-melanoma skin cancer cases.)
It is estimated that in 2013:
- 96,200 Canadian men will be diagnosed with cancer and 39,400 men will die from cancer.
- 91,400 Canadian women will be diagnosed with cancer and 36,100 women will die from cancer.
- On average, over 500 Canadians will be diagnosed with cancer every day.
- On average, over 200 Canadians will die from cancer every day.
Lung, breast, colorectal and prostate cancer are the most common types of cancer in Canada (excluding non-melanoma skin cancer). Based on 2013 estimates:
- These cancers account for over half (52%) of all new cancer cases.
- Prostate cancer accounts for about one-quarter (26%) of all new cancer cases in men.
- Lung cancer accounts for 14% of all new cases of cancer.
- Breast cancer accounts for about one-quarter (26%) of all new cancer cases in women.
- Colorectal cancer accounts for 13% of all new cancer cases.
Chances of developing or dying from cancer
Based on 2007 estimates:
- 2 out of 5 Canadians (46% of men and 41% of women) are expected to develop cancer during their lifetimes.
- 1 out of 4 Canadians (28% of men and 24% of women) is expected to die from cancer.
Prevalence is the total number of people living with a diagnosis of cancer at a certain point in time. This statistic can be useful in planning healthcare services for people recently diagnosed with cancer and for cancer survivors.
In 2009, about 840,000 Canadians diagnosed with cancer in the previous 10 years were alive. This represents about 2.5% of the Canadian population or 1 out of every 40 Canadians.
The number of newly diagnosed cancer cases in Canada is increasing, but survival rates are also increasing.
Survival is the percentage of people who are alive at some point in time after their cancer diagnosis.
Survival rates vary from low to high depending on the type of cancer and other factors. For example, based on 2006-2008 estimates:
- The 5-year relative survival rate for lung cancer is low (17%).
- The 5-year relative survival rate for colorectal cancer is average (65%).
- The 5-year relative survival rate is high for prostate cancer (96%) and breast cancer (88%).
- Based on 2006-2008 estimates, 63% of Canadians diagnosed with cancer are expected to survive for 5 years or more after a cancer diagnosis.
- Between 1992-1994 and 2006-2008, survival rates increased from 56% to 63% for all cancers combined.
For more in-depth information, go to Canadian Cancer Statistics publication.
Incidence by Region
Generally, both incidence and mortality rates are higher in Atlantic Canada and Quebec. They are lowest in British Columbia.
Estimated new cases show that there are geographic differences for males and females.
- Prostate cancer incidence rates vary greatly among the provinces, possibly due to variations in PSA testing across the country.
- Among males, lung cancer incidence rates are estimated to be highest in Quebec and lowest in British Columbia. This difference in incidence rates is linked in large part to the prevalence of smoking in each province.
- Colorectal cancer incidence rates for both males and females are highest in Newfoundland and Labrador. For females, high rates are also seen in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. The lowest rates for both sexes are in British Columbia.
- Apart from Newfoundland and Labrador, breast cancer incidence rates appear to be fairly consistent across the country, with no discernible geographic pattern. The lower rate in Newfoundland and Labrador may be related to incomplete registration of all breast cancers.
For more information, go to Canadian Cancer Statistics publication.
Prostate and breast cancer are the most frequently diagnosed cancers for males and females respectively, followed by lung and colorectal cancers. Overall, more males are diagnosed with cancer than females: 51% of all new cases are diagnosed in males; 49% of all new cases are diagnosed in females.
Based on 2009 incidence rates, 40% of Canadian women and 45% of men will develop cancer during their lifetimes. An estimated 1 out of every 4 Canadians are expected to die from cancer.
More men than women are diagnosed with cancer, but the gap between the two sexes has narrowed in recent years (51.7 per cent of cases are in men vs. 48.3 per cent of women).
The death rate for all cancers combined is declining for males in most age groups and for females under 70.
For more information, go to Canadian Cancer Statistics Publication.
Source: Canadian Cancer Society’s Advisory Committee on Cancer Statistics. Canadian Cancer Statistics 2013. Toronto, ON: Canadian Cancer Society; 2013.