Canadian cancer death rate down – also true for Nova Scotians

09 May 2012

Halifax -

The Canadian cancer death rate is dropping and that holds true for Nova Scotians. However, Atlantic Canada continues to have generally higher cancer incidence and death rates from cancer than most other provinces.

Canadian Cancer Statistics 2012  was released today by the Canadian Cancer Society, in collaboration with the Public Health Agency of Canada and Statistics Canada. Declines in death rates were seen in all four major cancers: lung, colorectal, breast and prostate. Between 1988 and 2007, overall death rates dropped by 21% in men and 9% in women.

More Nova Scotians will die from cancer than any other cause (30%1). What may be even more surprising is that in 2012 more Nova Scotians are estimated to die of lung cancer (750) than prostate cancer (120), colorectal cancer (360) and breast cancer (160) combined. 

Smoking causes approximately 85% of lung cancers. People who live or work with others who smoke are also at increased risk because they are exposed to second-hand smoke. Nova Scotians can reach out for support to quit smoking by contacting the Canadian Cancer Society’s Smokers’ Helpline at 1-877-513-5333 or online at

Lung cancer death rates make the case for further targeted tobacco control measures. The Canadian Cancer Society Nova Scotia Division will continue to work with partners on issues like prevention initiatives, cessation programs and smoke-free outdoor spaces.

Excluding non-melanoma skin cancers, colorectal, breast and prostate cancers are the top three major cancers after lung cancer. In 2012, Nova Scotians are estimated to have the second highest incidence rate of colorectal cancer, second only to Newfoundland.

The Canadian Cancer Society Nova Scotia Division lobbied for an at home colorectal screening kit for Nova Scotians. In 2009, the Government of Nova Scotia implemented an at home kit which is mailed to Nova Scotians between the ages of 50-74.

Screening programs are available to help Nova Scotians with the early detection of cancer. Cancer screening detects cancers at earlier stages when they are most treatable. Improvements in screening and early detection include the fecal occult blood test for colorectal cancer, the Pap test for cervical cancer, screening mammography for breast cancer. In addition, the discovery and use of more effective and less toxic cancer treatments are saving more lives.

In 2011, the Canadian Cancer Society launched Get Screened Nova Scotia a public awareness campaign to promote a culture of cancer screening. Nova Scotians are invited to encourage their family and friends to sign up for cancer screening reminders at

For the second year in a row, it is estimated that Nova Scotians will have the highest rates of melanoma among males and females in the country. (*cases per 100,000) Studies have shown that tanning before age 30 increases the risk of skin cancer. Some tanning beds have been shown to expose people to five times more radiation than the sun. The Canadian Cancer Society Nova Scotia Division is a member of Sun Safe Nova Scotia, a coalition that lobbied for a ban on youth indoor tanning. In 2011, the Government of Nova Scotia became the first province to pass legislation banning youth from tanning beds.

Statistics are provided through provincial and territorial cancer registries including the Nova Scotia Cancer Registry operated by Cancer Care Nova Scotia.

Nova Scotians (donors, volunteers, corporate sponsors and supporters) made the following possible in 2011:

  • Nearly $900,000 was invested in leading edge cancer research through the Canadian Cancer Society Research Institute.
  • 1170 people stayed overnight and had meals at The Canadian Cancer Society Lodge That Gives while having cancer treatments in Halifax.
  • 1273 Nova Scotians called the Cancer Information Service a national, bilingual toll-free service available to cancer patients, their families, the general public and healthcare professionals.
  • 71 Nova Scotian kids living with cancer or a brain tumor attended The Canadian Cancer Society Camp Goodtime.
  • 150 Nova Scotians newly diagnosed with cancer or their caregiver were matched by phone with a survivor through CancerConnection and 1678 joined the online community for support at .
  • The Canadian Cancer Society Smokers’ Helpline received over 1300 calls from over 400 Nova Scotians and 216 Nova Scotians registered for Smokers’ Helpline Online.

Funds raised through the Canadian Cancer Society Relay For Life, Daffodil Month, Special Events, planned gifts in Wills and direct mail campaigns support important mission areas of the Society – research, prevention and supportive programs.

The Canadian Cancer Society fights cancer by doing everything we can to prevent cancer, save lives and support people living with cancer. Join the fight! When you want to know more about cancer, visit our website at or call our toll-free bilingual Cancer Information Service at 1 888 939-3333.

1 Statistics Canada: Leading Causes of Death in Canada, Table 3.3 Ten leading causes of death by sex and geography, 2008 – Nova Scotia

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 or call our toll-free, bilingual Cancer Information Service at 1 888 939-3333.

For more information, please contact:

Barbara Johnson

Communications Manager

Phone: (902) 423-6183