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Media backgrounder: 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 provides comprehensive, up-to-date statistics on the burden of cancer in Canada.

Current estimates of new cases and deaths

  • Nearly 1 in 2 Canadians is expected to be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime, and approximately 1 in 4 Canadians is expected to die of the disease.
  • In 2019, an estimated 220,400 people will be diagnosed with cancer (excluding non-melanoma skin cancers).
  • An estimated 82,100 Canadians will die of cancer in 2019.
  • In 2019, approximately 25 people will be diagnosed with cancer every hour of every day, and about 9 people will die of the disease every hour.
  • Since the cancer death rate peaked in 1988, it has decreased about 28% (35% in males and 20% in females).
The number of new cancer cases and deaths each year is rising steadily because the Canadian population is growing and aging.

Common cancers
There are more than 100 different types of cancer, but 4 of them – lung, breast, colorectal and prostate – account for almost half (48%) of all new cancer cases diagnosed in Canada in 2019.

Breast cancer
  • Breast cancer continues to be the most commonly diagnosed cancer and the second leading cause of cancer-related death among Canadian women.
  • An estimated 26,900 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in Canada in 2019 and approximately 5,000 women are expected to die of the disease. More than 80% of breast cancers occur in women who are 50 and over.
  • 1 in 8 Canadian women is expected to be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime and 1 in 33 is expected to die of breast cancer.
  • The breast cancer death rate in women has been nearly cut in half, decreasing approximately 48% since it peaked in 1986. This reduction likely reflects the impact of research that has led to improvements in screening and treatment for breast cancer.
  • 5-year breast cancer survival is 88%, up from 82% in the early 1990s.
  • A recent study, called ComPARe, found about 28% of breast cancer cases in females can be prevented.
Lung cancer
  • Lung cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Canada (excluding non-melanoma skin cancers).
  • An estimated 29,300 Canadians will be diagnosed with lung cancer in 2019 and 21,000 are expected to die of the disease.
  • In 2019, lung cancer is expected to be the leading cause of cancer death in Canada, accounting for about one-quarter (26%) of all cancer deaths.
  • Lung cancer leads to the death of more Canadians than breast, prostate and colorectal cancers combined.
  • On average, 80 Canadians will be diagnosed with lung cancer every day, and 58 Canadians will die of it every day.
  • Lung cancer incidence and death rates are now decreasing in both males and females.
  • 5-year lung cancer survival is 19%, up from 13% in the early 1990s.
  • The ComPARe study found about 86% of lung cancers can be prevented. Tobacco smoking is the leading preventable cause of lung cancer, accounting for 72% of all lung cancer cases.
Prostate cancer
  • Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Canadian men and the third leading cause of cancer-related death in Canadian men.
  • An estimated 22,900 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in Canada in 2019. Approximately 4,100 men are expected to die of the disease in 2019.
  • An estimated 1 in 9 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime. One in 29 men will die of prostate cancer.
  • The prostate cancer death rate has declined significantly since 1994, likely largely because of improvements in treatment.
  • 5-year prostate cancer survival is 93%.
  • The ComPARe study found prostate cancer is one of the least preventable cancers.
Colorectal cancer
  • Colorectal cancer is expected to be the 3rd most commonly diagnosed cancer and the 2nd leading cause of cancer death in Canada.
  • An estimated 26,300 Canadians will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2019 and 9,500 will die of the disease.
  • It is estimated that about 1 in 14 men and 1 in 18 women will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer during their lifetime.
  • The 5-year survival rate for colorectal cancer is about 65%.
  • Colorectal cancer death rates have gone down for both men and women since the early 2000s, likely a result of research that has led to reductions in risk factors, improvements in screening and advancements in treatment.
Media release: New report shows survival for blood cancers has increased more than any other cancer over 20 years

Media backgrounder: Blood 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. 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