PEI Cancer Rates Higher Than National Average

29 May 2013

Charlottetown, PE -



Cancer is the leading cause of death in Canada and in Prince Edward Island.    The incidence rate of cancer for Island men is among the highest in the country, 12% higher than the national average.  Of even greater concern is that P.E.I. has the second highest mortality rate among women, 10% higher compared to the rest of Canada.

Canadian Cancer Statistics 2013 was released today by the Canadian Cancer Society, in collaboration with the Public Health Agency of Canada and Statistics Canada.

This year alone it is estimated there will be 187,600 new cases of cancer (excluding 81,700 cases of non-melanoma skin cancer) and 75,500 deaths anticipated in Canada. 

Is it estimated that 880 Islanders will be diagnosed with cancer and approximately 360 will die from the disease in 2013, a decrease of 20 from the previous year.  Of these newly-diagnosed cases, more than half will be prostate, lung, colorectal and breast cancers.

 “It’s important to understand the ways we can reduce our own risk of developing cancer,” says Lori Barker, Executive Director of the Canadian Cancer Society, P.E.I. Division.  “It’s all about taking action to prevent cancer.  That means making changes to our lifestyle choices including quitting smoking, eating more fruits and vegetables and getting regular exercise.  Research tells us that approximately 50% of cancers can be prevented so even small changes, like walking for 20 minutes each day, can make a significant difference in reducing our risk.”

The Canadian Cancer Society also advises incorporating appropriate screening programs into your health regime.  Prince Edward Island has provincial screening programs for colon, breast and cervical cancers.  “Early identification and treatment of cancer is critical,” says Barker.   “Getting screened for cervical, breast and colon cancer improves treatment options and will result in fewer Islanders dying from these diseases.” For more information, visit   www.getscreenedpei.ca

Barker says the Canadian Cancer Society remains committed to informing Canadians about how they can reduce their cancer risk and advocating for governments to pass policies to make healthy choices easy choices.

“We want to stress that there are many steps Islanders can take to reduce their risk of ever hearing the words ‘You have cancer’.   While many factors are out of our control, there are important things we can do to protect ourselves,” says Barker.

Lung cancer continues to be the leading cause of death in men and women, estimated to take the lives of over 100 Islanders in 2013.  More people on P.E.I. will die of lung cancer than prostate, breast and colorectal cancers combined.

Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in men across the country and in PEI.  This year, an estimated 140 Islanders will be diagnosed with prostate cancer and 20 will die from the disease.

“While this is a commonly diagnosed cancer, I’m happy to say that the incidence rate on PEI has dropped thirteen percent from last year (from 160 to 140 cases) and the mortality rate has continued to decline significantly over the past decade,” says Barker.

Breast cancer remains the most common cancer in Island women, with 100 new cases estimated in 2013.  While the incidence rate for breast cancer is 6% lower than the national average, the mortality rate for this disease on P.E.I. is 21% higher than the national average, with 30 anticipated deaths.

Colorectal cancer in PEI is the third most common cancer in Island men and ties with lung cancer as the second most common cancer in women.  It is the second leading cause of death among men and the third most common death among women,.  Women also have the second highest mortality rate for colorectal cancer in the country, 29% higher than the national average.  There will be an estimated 115 new cases of colorectal cancer and 50 deaths in 2013.

In an effort to address this serious health issue, the government of Prince Edward Island implemented a provincial screening program for colorectal cancer.  A home-based FIT kit is available to all Islanders between the ages of 50-74. It helps detect abnormalities in the colon before they become cancer and identifies problems earlier, when they are more successfully treated.

“This screening program is vital on PEI,” says Barker. “This is one type of cancer we can dramatically reduce through a simple stool test.” 

The incidence rate of melanoma among males is the highest in the country, 60% higher than the national average. In 2013, an estimated 40 new cases of melanoma (25 males; 15 females) will be diagnosed in this province.  (That does not include the many cases of non-melanoma skin cancer that will be treated on P.E.I.)


Barker commented that while cancer can hit anyone at any time for no obvious reason, a growing body of evidence shows that about half of cancers can be prevented. “Even greater gains can be made in reducing cancer rates if more is done to help Canadians embrace healthy lifestyles and if governments do more to create policies that encourage people to make these changes,” says Barker. 

Canadian Cancer Statistics 2013 was prepared and distributed through a collaboration of the Canadian Cancer Society, the Public Health Agency of Canada, Statistics Canada, provincial/territorial cancer registries, as well as university-based and provincial/territorial cancer agency-based cancer researchers.

For more information about Canadian Cancer Statistics 2013, visit the Society’s website at cancer.ca/statistics For 75 years the Canadian Cancer Society has been with Canadians in the fight for life. We have been relentless in our commitment to prevent cancer, fund research and support Canadians touched by cancer. From this foundation, we will work with Canadians to change cancer forever so fewer Canadians are diagnosed with the disease and more survive. When you want to know more about cancer, visit our website at cancer.ca or call our toll-free bilingual Cancer Information Service at 1 888 939-3333; TTY, 1 866 786-3934.





For more information contact:

Lori Barker

Executive Director,

Canadian Cancer Society, PEI Division





Pour information en français:

Sasha Anopina

Bilingual Communications Specialist

Canadian Cancer Society


416 934-5338


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:

Lori Barker

Executive Director

Phone: 902-566-4007