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Canadian Cancer Statistics media fact sheet

20 June 2017

Toronto -

Quick facts

  • Nearly 1 in 2 Canadians is expected to be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime
  • In 2017, an estimated 206,200 Canadians are expected to be diagnosed with cancer (excluding non-melanoma skin cancer)
  • Cancer is the leading cause of death in Canada – 1 in 4 Canadians will die from the disease
  • An estimated 80,800 Canadians will die from cancer in 2017
  • Since the peak in the cancer death rate in Canada in 1988, it is estimated that over 179,000 deaths have been avoided as a result of cancer prevention and control efforts
  • The 5-year cancer survival rate has increased from 25% in the 1940s to 60% today

Common cancers

  • Of newly diagnosed cases, half are expected to be lung, colorectal, breast and prostate cancers
  • Lung cancer continues to be the most commonly diagnosed cancer overall (14% of all cancers diagnosed) and the leading cause of cancer death, causing more cancer deaths among Canadians (21,100) than colorectal, breast and prostate cancer combined (18,500)
    • Tobacco use causes more than 85% of lung cancer cases
    • Between 1989 and 2012, it is estimated that 31,660 lung cancer deaths have been avoided as a result of cancer prevention and control efforts
  • Colorectal cancer is the 2nd most common cancer overall (13% of all cancers diagnosed)
    • Colorectal cancer is the 2nd most common cause of cancer death for males and 3rd most common cause of cancer death for females, accounting for 12% of all cancer deaths
    • Colorectal cancer death rates continue to decline for men and women, which is likely largely due to improvements in screening, diagnosis and treatment
  • Breast cancer continues to be the most commonly diagnosed cancer among Canadian women
    • 1 in 8 Canadian women is expected to be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime
    • In 2017, an estimated 26,300 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer and 5,000 women will die of breast cancer
    • The breast cancer death rate has fallen 44% since 1988, which likely reflects earlier diagnosis through screening and treatment advances
  • Prostate cancer continues to be the most commonly diagnosed cancer among Canadian men
    • 1 in 7 Canadian men is expected to be diagnosed with prostate cancer in his lifetime
    • In 2017, an estimated 21,300 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer and 4,100 men will die of prostate cancer
    • The death rate for prostate cancer has been declining, which likely reflects improvements in treatment

Impact of aging population

  • The number of cancer cases continues to rise each year primarily because of the growing and aging Canadian population. Canadian Cancer Statistics 2015 showed the average annual number of cancer cases in 2028-2032 is projected to be 79% higher than it was in 2003-2007
  • In 2017, it is estimated that 89% of all cancers will be diagnosed in Canadians 50 years of age and over and 45% will occur in Canadians 70 years of age and older
  • Almost all cancer deaths in Canada (96%) will occur in people aged 50 and over. Most of these (65%) will occur in people 70 and over
  • With the continued increase in the number of new cancers, the Canadian healthcare system faces increasing demand for cancer services including diagnostics, treatment, palliative care and survivor supports

Pancreatic cancer (special topic)

  • In 2017, 5,500 Canadians are expected to be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and 4,800 are expected to die of this disease
  • Pancreatic cancer is the 12th most commonly diagnosed cancer in Canada but the 4th leading cause of cancer death
  • Because of limited improvements in pancreatic cancer prevention, detection and treatment, this cancer is expected to soon be the 3rd leading cause of cancer death in Canada
  • Pancreatic cancer has the lowest survival rate of all the major cancers at 8% and only about half of people diagnosed survive beyond 4 months
  • As prevention, detection and treatment options remain poor, research plays a crucial role in addressing the burden of pancreatic cancer

About Canadian Cancer Statistics
Canadian Cancer Statistics 2017 was prepared through a partnership of the Canadian Cancer Society, the Public Health Agency of Canada, Statistics Canada and provincial and territorial cancer registries.

The methodology for calculating the lifetime probability of developing cancer has been enhanced this year to better capture cancers that might have occurred in the past. The new numbers are a better reflection of the risk of being diagnosed with cancer at some point in life, whether in the future or in the past. This methodology is similar to that now being used in the United States and United Kingdom.

For more information about Canadian Cancer Statistics 2017, visit cancer.ca/statistics

Canadian Cancer Statistics 2017 media release.

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:

Rosie Hales

Communications Specialist

Canadian Cancer Society

National office

Phone: 416 934-5338