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Media backgrounder: Blood cancer in Canada

04 September 2019

Toronto -

Canadian Cancer Statistics 2019 was released today by the Canadian Cancer Society in partnership with the Public Health Agency of Canada and Statistics Canada. The report revealed that the biggest increases in cancer survival since the early 1990s have been for blood cancers.

About blood cancer
Blood cancer is an umbrella term for cancers that affect the production and function of blood cells. Most of these cancers start in the bone marrow where blood is produced. They occur when abnormal blood cells start growing out of control, interrupting the function of normal blood cells which fight off infection and produce new blood cells.

There are 3 main groups of blood cancers – leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma. Within these groups there are different types. 

Current estimates of new blood cancer cases and deaths
  • Blood cancers represent about 10% of all cancer diagnoses.
  • In 2019, an estimated 21,000 Canadians will be diagnosed with a blood cancer.
    • This includes 10,000 cases of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, 6,700 cases of leukemia, 3,300 cases of multiple myeloma and 1,000 cases of Hodgkin lymphoma
  • In 2019, an estimated 7,450 people in Canada will die of a blood cancer.
    • This includes 2,800 cases of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, 3,000 cases of leukemia, 1,550 cases of multiple myeloma and 100 cases of Hodgkin lymphoma
Report highlight: Increases in blood cancer survival
  • Since the early 1990s survival for the most commonly diagnosed blood cancers increased 16-19 percentage points over 20 years – more than any other cancer type. For example, 5-year survival for:
    • non-Hodgkin lymphoma increased 19 percentage points (from 49% to 68%)
    • multiple myeloma increased 17 percentage points (from 27% to 44%)
    • leukemia increased 16 percentage points (from 43% to 59%)
  • The increase in survival for blood cancers has largely been attributed to improvements in precision medicine.
Media release: Canadian Cancer Statistics 2019

Media backgrounder: Cancer in Canada

About Canadian Cancer Statistics
Canadian Cancer Statistics is prepared through a partnership of the Canadian Cancer Society, the Public Health Agency of Canada and Statistics Canada in collaboration with the provincial and territorial cancer registries. The Public Health Agency of Canada completed all analyses related to projecting incidence and mortality, assessing trends over time and estimating the probability of developing and dying of cancer. Statistics Canada completed all analyses related to survival.

The Canadian Cancer Society coordinates the production and dissemination of this publication and supports it with charitable funds. For more than 30 years, this publication has been providing information that helps decide what support and services are needed and what research should be done. It also helps assess the impact of prevention, early detection and treatment. For more information about Canadian Cancer Statistics, visit cancer.ca/statistics.

About the Canadian Cancer Society
The Canadian Cancer Society is a national community-based organization 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 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:

Catherine Kong
Communications Coordinator
Canadian Cancer Society
National office
Phone: 416-934-5366