Dramatic increase in cancer cases in Alberta expected to be higher than national average

27 May 2015


A new report released today by the Canadian Cancer Society shows the estimated number of new cancer cases diagnosed in Canada will rise by 40 per cent by 2030.

In Alberta, however, the Canadian Cancer Statistics 2015 report estimates about a 60 per cent increase in new cancer cases within the next 15 years. This is because Alberta is expected to have above average population growth as well as a substantial increase in seniors (aged 65 and older) by 2030.

An estimated 277,000 Canadians will be diagnosed with cancer in 2030, up from nearly 197,000 this year.

In Alberta, an estimated 28,140 people will be diagnosed with cancer in 2030, up from approximately 17,000 this year.

It’s important to note that the significant increase in the number of cancer cases does not represent an increase in a person’s risk of developing cancer; the rapidly growing and aging population will cause this drastic jump. Cancer is primarily a disease of aging, with nearly 90 per cent of all new cancer cases occurring in people over the age of 50. Seniors are the fastest growing demographic in Canada; it’s estimated that one in four Canadians will be 65 or older in 2030, compared to one in eight today.

It is expected that the overall cancer survival rate will continue to improve thanks to ongoing advancements in prevention, screening and treatment.

“The good news is we’ve made tremendous progress and more Canadians are surviving cancer than ever before,” says Sarah Hawkins, Public Policy Analyst with the Canadian Cancer Society. “But the results of our report show there has never been a more critical time for us to boost our efforts in the fight for life. A 60 per cent increase in cancer cases in Alberta will push us beyond our capacity to provide the care and support cancer patients deserve; it’s especially concerning for southern Alberta as the cancer care infrastructure in Calgary has been overcapacity and splintered across the city for a decade.”

Improving cancer care infrastructure, furthering prevention efforts and boosting screening programs will be crucial components of a strategy that will prepare Alberta for the drastic increase in cancer cases within the next 15 years.

In addition to moving forward with construction of a desperately needed new cancer centre in Calgary, the Society strongly encourages the Government of Alberta to boost cancer prevention efforts by including menthol in Bill 206.

“Lung cancer kills more Canadians than any other form of the disease – it accounts for more than a quarter of all cancer deaths,” says Hawkins. “To make significant progress in the fight against cancer, our government must continue to expand tobacco control measures, particularly in preventing youth from starting to smoke, or helping them stop if they have already started.”

The Government of Alberta (then the Progressive Conservatives) introduced Bill 206 in 2013, which will ban most flavoured tobacco starting this June – except menthol.

“Any legitimate effort to reduce youth tobacco use must include a ban on menthol-flavoured tobacco products,” says Hawkins. “Menthol is the most popular tobacco flavouring among youth. One in three Alberta youth smokers use menthol cigarettes, compared to only one in 20 adult smokers. We strongly encourage the Alberta government to include menthol in the flavoured tobacco ban.”

What you can do
Two in five Canadians will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetimes, which also affects their families and caregivers; however, we know healthy, active living can reduce a third of all cancers.

In addition to being physically active, eating well, not smoking and limiting alcohol consumption, the Canadian Cancer Society strongly encourages:
  • parents to vaccinate their children against the human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV causes nearly all cases of cervical cancer, and also increases the risk of anal, vaginal, vulvar, penile and oropharyngeal cancers. The HPV vaccine is available to girls and boys in Alberta through the school immunization program.
  • Albertans who are 50 or older to speak with their healthcare provider about using the Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT) to be screened for colorectal cancer. Colorectal cancer is highly treatable when caught early; however, the disease is currently the second leading cause of cancer death in Canada, in large part because the disease is being caught at an advanced stage in most cases, making it more challenging to successfully treat. About 40,000 lives could be saved if 80% of eligible Canadians get screened for colorectal cancer.
You can learn more about prevention and how you can join the fight for life by visiting cancer.ca.

Background information

Stats 2015: Media backgrounder #1
Stats 2015: Media backgrounder #2
Stats 2015: Media backgrounder #3

About Canadian Cancer Statistics
Canadian Cancer Statistics 2015
was prepared through a partnership of the Canadian Cancer Society, the Public Health Agency of Canada, Statistics Canada and provincial and territorial cancer registries. For more information about Canadian Cancer Statistics 2015, visit the Canadian Cancer Society’s website at cancer.ca/statistics.

About the Canadian Cancer Society

The Canadian Cancer Society is a national, community-based organization of volunteers and staff whose mission is the eradication of cancer and enhancement of the quality of life of people living with cancer. Thanks to our 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. Make your gift today at cancer.ca.

For more information, please contact:

Paula Trotter

Communications Coordinator

Phone: 403-541-2339