PEI Cancer Rates Higher Than National Average

28 May 2014

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, 13% higher than the national average.  Of even greater concern is that P.E.I. has the second highest morality rate among women, 12% higher than the rest of Canada.

Canadian Cancer Statistics 2014 was released today by the Canadian Cancer Society, in collaboration with the Public Health Agency of Canada, Statistics Canada and the provincial and territorial cancer registries.

This year alone, it is estimated there will be 191,300 new cases of cancer (excluding 76,100 cases of non-melanoma skin cancer) and 76,600 cancer deaths in Canada.

Nine hundred Islanders will be diagnosed with cancer and approximately 370 will die from the disease in 2014.  Of these newly-diagnosed cases, more than half will be prostate, lung, colorectal and breast cancers. 

Melanoma skin cancer is one of the fastest rising of all cancers in Canada. In Prince Edward Island the situation is even more troubling.  The rate of melanoma in Island men is 50 percent higher than the national average. 

In 2014, 40 new cases (25 males; 15 females) of melanoma will be diagnosed in this province.

Skin cancer, including melanoma, is one of the most preventable types of cancer. The main risk factor is UV radiation from overexposure to the sun and other sources, such as indoor tanning beds.

“Skin cancer is a largely preventable disease if we use proper sun protection and avoid indoor tanning,” says Lori Barker, executive director of the Canadian Cancer Society, P.E.I. Division.  

Ken Hubley’s melanoma was discovered during a routine medical exam. “It was a small mole on my right thigh, smaller than the nail on my baby finger, but the doctor said ‘I don’t like the look of that, we have to get it checked,’ and he was right. I was shocked when they told me it was a malignant melanoma.

Hubley, a resident of Stanhope, urges Islanders to pay more attention to their skin. “Prevention is key,” says Hubley. “You have to protect your skin, examine it and have any changes looked at by a professional. If you don’t, the consequences can be deadly.”

The Canadian Cancer Society says research tells us that approximately 50% of cancers can be prevented so even small changes can make a significant difference in reducing our risk. “That means changing our lifestyle choices including quitting smoking, eating more fruits and vegetables, getting regular exercise and being sun-safe,” says Barker.  The Society also stresses the importance of avoiding exposure to environmental and occupational carcinogens.

On P.E.I., as in the rest of Canada, lung cancer continues to be the leading cause of cancer death in men and women. It will take the lives of over 110 Islanders in 2014.  More people in P.E.I. will die of lung cancer than prostate, breast and colorectal cancers combined.  Thirty percent of all cancer deaths are related to tobacco use.

Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in men.  This year, an estimated 140 Islanders will be diagnosed with prostate cancer and 25 will die from the disease.  PEI has the highest mortality rate for prostate cancer in the country, 35% higher than the national average.

Breast cancer remains the most common cancer in Island women, with 110 new cases estimated this year.  While the incidence rate for breast cancer is 4% lower than the national average, the mortality rate for this disease on P.E.I. is 28% higher than the national average, with 30 anticipated deaths.

Colorectal cancer remains the third most common cancer in Island men and women.  There will be an estimated 115 new cases of colorectal cancer and 50 deaths in 2014.   P.E.I. has the second highest mortality rate for women, 29% higher than the national average.

The government of Prince Edward Island implemented a provincial screening program for colorectal cancer in 2011.  A home-based FIT kit is available to 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,” says Barker. “We expect to see a notable decline in the number of deaths from colon cancer in coming years as a result of earlier detection.”

The Society points out that progress is being made in the fight against cancer. “We know more about what causes cancer, how it develops and how best to treat it,” says Barker.  “More people are living with and beyond cancer than ever before, thanks to advancements in research, earlier detection, more effective treatments and a better understanding of prevention.”

Canadian Cancer Statistics 2014 was prepared and distributed through a collaboration of the Canadian Cancer Society, the Public Health Agency of Canada, Statistics Canada and the provincial/territorial cancer registries.

Following this year's release of the Canadian Cancer Statistics, the Society is hosting four public meetings across the province.  Visit the Society's event pages on cancer.ca to for locations and times.

To download the full Canadian Cancer Statistics, and to read specific fast facts regarding Prince Edward Island, click here.



The Canadian Cancer Society is a national, community-based organization of volunteers whose mission is to eradicate cancer and enhance the quality of life of people living with cancer. Thanks to donors and volunteers, the Society has the most impact, against the most cancers, in the most communities in Canada. Building on our progress, we are working with Canadians to change cancer forever. For more information, visit cancer.ca or call our toll-free bilingual Cancer Information Service at 1-888-939-3333 (TTY 1-866-786-3934).

For more information, please contact:

Lori Barker

Executive Director

Phone: 902-566-4007