Canadian Cancer Society report shows more Canadians surviving cancer

29 May 2013

Manitoba -

The odds of beating cancer improved to 63% this year as the death rates among most cancers continued to stabilize or decline, according to the Canadian Cancer Statistics 2013 report released today by the Canadian Cancer Society in collaboration with the Public Health Agency of Canada and Statistics Canada.

In fact, the report shows the number of Canadians killed by nine major forms of cancer has declined more than 2% per year over the past several years.  This includes a 3.9% per year decrease in the death rate for prostate cancer (2001-2009) - which now has a 5 year relative survival rate of 96%, a 2.4% per year decline for breast cancer (since 2000), a 2.7% per year decline for colorectal cancer (since 2004), and a 2.2% decline for ovary cancers and lung cancer in men (2000-2009).

The two kinds of cancer that continue to see an increase in mortality are liver cancer, and lung cancer in women.  The increase in lung cancer deaths is due primarily to the fact that women’s smoking rates did not begin to decline until the 1980s, whereas in men, smoking rates began to decline in the 1960s.  It takes time before decreases in population-wide smoking prevalence translate into drops in lung cancer incidence and death rates.  

“As the largest national charitable funder of cancer research we’re really quite pleased to say that Manitobans facing a cancer diagnosis today have a better survival rate than they did just a few years ago,” Mark McDonald, Executive Director of the Cancer Society’s Manitoba Division said.  “Someone facing cancer in 1994 had a 56% chance of beating the disease. Today the survival rate is 63% and during this the Cancer Society’s 75th Anniversary year, we will continue fighting until no Manitoban fears a cancer diagnosis.”

The declining death rates also suggest that improvements in screening and early detection are having a positive effect.  Successful early detection methods 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 cancer treatments are saving more lives.

However, the report shows that there is still a great deal of work to be done as cancer continues to be the leading cause of premature death in Canada.  In addition, Manitoba’s aging population will mean that there will be more cancer diagnoses this year than last.  In 2013, the Cancer Society estimates 6,400 Manitoba families will face a cancer diagnosis – 300 more than was predicted last year.

Bev Taphorn is a four time cancer survivor, one of the growing number of people currently battling cancer in her liver.  “After beating both breast and colon cancer, and being cancer free for almost ten years, I was diagnosed with non-curable bone cancer two years ago,” says Taphorn.  “And just recently, I found out that I have terminal cancer in my liver.  I am living with this every day, but it has not held me back from doing what I enjoy doing and leading a productive life.  I’m sure that without cancer research, I probably wouldn’t be here.   I’m so grateful for the support I’ve received.”

Since 1970, the incidence rate of liver cancer has tripled in Canadian men and doubled in Canadian women, rising every year by 3.6% in men and 1.7% in women.

Liver cancer has a very poor prognosis, with a 5-year relative survival rate of only 20%.  While it is still a relatively rare cause of death in Canada (1,000 deaths expected this year), the death rate in Canadian men has doubled since 1970.  And worldwide it is the 3rd leading cause of cancer death after lung and stomach cancer, accounting for about 700,000 deaths per year.

The main risk factors for liver cancer are chronic hepatitis B and C infections. However, hepatitis is not well recognized as a serious health threat. In addition, many people don’t know that they have hepatitis. Approximately 600,000 Canadians are infected with hepatitis B or C, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Heavy alcohol use, obesity, diabetes, smoking and several other factors are also associated with a higher risk of liver cancer.

If more isn’t done to address the risk factors for liver cancer, incidence and death rates are expected to continue to rise in Canada.

Canadian Cancer Statistics 2012 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.

Media are invited to Canadian Cancer Society offices at 193 Sherbrook in Winnipeg at 10:00am on May 29 to conduct interviews with Bev Taphorn and Cancer Society staff.  For more information about Canadian Cancer Statistics 2012, visit the Society’s website at cancer.ca/statistics

About the Canadian Cancer Society

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.

For more information, please contact:

Jason Permanand

Communications Manager

Canadian Cancer Society

Manitoba

Phone: 204-990-4310