Media backgrounder: Canadian Cancer Statistics 2011

18 May 2011

Toronto -

Cancer in Canada: Fast facts

Canadian Cancer Statistics 2011 was released today by the Canadian Cancer Society.

In general, the incidence and death rates for the majority of cancer types have stabilized or declined during the past decade.

Current estimates of new cases and deaths

In 2011:

  • An estimated 177,800 new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in Canada (not including approximately 74,100 cases of non-melanoma skin cancer).
  • There will be an estimated 75,000 deaths from cancer.

The number of new cancer cases continues to rise steadily as the Canadian population grows and ages.

Prevalence

At the beginning of 2007, there were about 749,000 cancer survivors or people currently undergoing cancer treatment (about one in 44, or 2.3% of the Canadian population) who had been diagnosed with cancer in the previous 10 years.

The five-year relative survival ratio is the proportion of people alive five years after their cancer diagnosis compared to the proportion of people in the same general population alive after five years.

  • The five-year relative survival for all cancers combined is 62%.
  • Relative survival is highest for thyroid, prostate and testicular cancers, which all have survival rates above 90%.
  • Relative survival is lowest for lung, esophagus and pancreas cancers, which all have survival rates of 16% or lower.
  • Overall, relative survival has improved from 56% in 1992–94 to 62% in 2004–06. Improvements were greatest for non-Hodgkin lymphoma and leukemias.

Men

  • Overall incidence rate: Since 1993, there has been a decline in the overall cancer incidence rate in men but the rate has stabilized more recently. This trend is partly due to the declining incidence of lung cancer.
  • Overall death rate: After reaching a peak in 1988, the cancer death rate in Canadian men has declined, mainly due to downward trends in prostate, lung and colorectal cancers.

For men, the following significant changes (of at least 2% per year) were observed.

  • Incidence rates (1998–2007):
    • decrease in stomach cancer (-2.0% per year)
    • increases in liver cancer (3.6% per year) and thyroid cancer (6.8% per year)
  • Death rates (1997–2006):
    • Decrease in all cancers combined (-2.0% per year), in particular: decreases in lung cancer (-2.3% per year), oral cancer (-2.4% per year), stomach cancer (-3.1% per year), non-Hodgkin lymphoma (-3.8% per year), prostate cancer (-4.5% per year) and larynx cancer (-6.1% per year).
    • No major increases in death rates for most cancers were observed, although the liver cancer death rate has been increasing 1.8% per year.

Women

Among women, the overall cancer incidence rate has been increasing slowly since the early 1990s, but it recently began to level off. The death rate has remained relatively stable since 1982.

For women, the following significant changes (of at least 2% per year) were observed:

  • Incidence rates (1998–2007):
    • decrease in larynx cancer (-3.4% per year)
    • increases in liver cancer (2.3% per year) and thyroid cancer (8.8% per year)
  • Death rates (1997–2006):
    • decreases in stomach cancer(-2.2% per year), breast cancer (-3.1% per year), non-Hodgkin lymphoma (-3.1% per year) and cervical cancer (-3.4% per year)
    • No major increases in death rates for most cancers were observed, although the lung and liver cancer death rates in particular have been increasing by 1% and 1.6% per year, respectively.

Prostate cancer

  • Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among Canadian men.
  • In 2011, it is estimated that approximately 25,500 Canadian men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer and about 4,100 will die from the disease.
  • Although the incidence rate has been declining very slowly, the cancer death rate declined significantly between 1997 and 2006, by 4.5% per year, which likely reflects improved treatment.

Breast cancer

  • Breast cancer continues to be the most commonly diagnosed cancer among Canadian women.
  • In 2011, it is estimated that approximately 23,400 Canadian women will be diagnosed with breast cancer and about 5,100 will die from it.
  • Although incidence has been declining, the death rate has been decreasing more strongly, with a reduction of more than 30% since 1986. This is likely because of early detection and treatment through increased screening by mammography and availability of improved treatment. The breast cancer death rate is the lowest it has been since 1950.

Lung cancer

  • Lung cancer remains by far the leading cause of cancer death for both men and women.
  • In women, the lung cancer incidence rate has been increasing since 1982:
    • The incidence rate increased by 1.1% per year between 1998 and 2007, but over the long-term it is expected to level off.
    • The death rate increased by 1% per year between 1997 and 2006.
  • Among men, rising lung cancer incidence and death rates began to level off in the mid-1980s and have been declining ever since. Incidence rates have dropped by 1.8% per year since 1998 and death rates by 2.3% per year since 1997.

The difference between the male and female trends reflects the drop in smoking that began for men in the mid-1960s and much later – in the mid-1980s – for women.

Canadian Cancer Statistics 2011 is prepared, printed and distributed through a collaboration of the Canadian Cancer Society, the Public Health Agency of Canada, Statistics Canada, provincial and territorial cancer registries.

 

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Backgrounder: The Canadian Cancer Society and Colorectal Cancer

The Canadian Cancer Society is a national community-based organization of volunteers whose mission is the eradication of cancer and the enhancement of the quality of life of people living with cancer. When you want to know more about cancer, visit our website www.cancer.ca or call our toll-free, bilingual Cancer Information Service at 1 888 939-3333.

For more information, please contact:

Christine Harminc

Senior Manager, Communications & Media Relations

Canadian Cancer Society

Phone: 416 934-5340