Canadian Cancer Statistics 2014: 126,000 deaths have been prevented in the past 25 years - Several types of cancer are in decline, except for skin cancer - In Quebec, lung cancer continues to be devastating

28 May 2014

Montreal -

In 2014, there will be an estimated 49,100 new cancer cases in Quebec and 191,300 in Canada (excluding non-melanoma skin cancers1) and 20,500 deaths from this disease in the province and 76,600 in the country. These are the latest figures from the Canadian Cancer Statistics 2014, released today by the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) in collaboration with the Public Health Agency of Canada and Statistics Canada.

The number of new cancer cases continues to rise steadily with population growth and ageing, but there is one cancer that is rising faster than others: skin cancer, including melanoma, the deadliest of all skin cancers2. About 930 melanomas (6,500 in Canada) and 30,000 other skin cancers (76,100 in the country) will be diagnosed this year alone. Some 210 Quebecers (1,050 Canadians) are expected to die from it this year.

The report also notes that more men in Quebec than elsewhere in the country will be diagnosed with lung cancer. Nearly a third of all cancer deaths – 31% (27% in Canada) – are attributable to lung cancer alone (men and women). This is caused first and foremost by smoking, which continues to be widespread in the province.

But there is also good news in the numbers: an estimated 126,000 additional deaths were prevented in a period of 25 years from 1988 when the cancer death rate in Canada was at its peak, thanks to better prevention, screening, and treatments.

Melanoma and other skin cancer causes

The rates for new cancer cases and deaths due to several types of cancer are going down in Canada, but this is not the case for skin cancer. Incidence and death rates for melanoma have significantly increased in the past 25 years.

In Quebec, about 930 melanomas (6,500 in Canada) and about 30,000 other skin cancers (76,100 in the country) will be diagnosed just this year. But skin cancer is one of the most easily preventable cancers. The main risk factor is overexposure to UV rays from the sun or indoor tanning beds.

“Too many Quebecers still sunbathe and expose themselves to artificial UV rays,” says Suzanne Dubois, Executive Director, CCS – Quebec Division. “In Quebec, thanks to the efforts of the CCS, the Association des dermatologistes du Québec, and the Institut national de la santé publique, there is now a law to ban minors from tanning salons. However, the report released this morning tells us that people are spending more time in the sun without adequate protection. To save more lives, the CCS will continue raising public awareness and touring schools with its UV Photomaton to unveil the hidden, but permanent, skin damage caused by UV rays. In addition, the CCS’s Sun Squads will visit day camps across Quebec this summer to teach children to protect themselves from the sun.”

The CCS’s three key messages for skin cancer prevention:
  1. There is no safe way of tanning. In fact, the damage done by tanning is permanent and builds up over time.
  2. Nearly 100% of skin cancers can be prevented by protecting yourself better from the sun and avoiding indoor tanning beds.
  3. To keep your skin healthy, it’s important to protect it. Use a sunscreen with a SPF (sun protection factor) of at least 15 or 30 when you spend the whole day outdoors; look for shade; and protect yourself (e.g., hat, clothes that cover up the body, sun glasses).
Tobacco: an issue that must be tackled to save more lives

Smoking accounts for 30% of all cancers. In Quebec, lung cancer alone will kill twice as many women as breast cancer and four times as many men as prostate cancer.

Although the smoking rate in Quebec has decreased significantly since the year 2000, the marketing efforts of cigarette companies in the past few years have been successful. As a result, the percentage of smokers has practically stagnated over the past five years, which means that every smoker who quits or dies is replaced by a youth. To recruit a new client base, the tobacco industry targets youths and develops fruit- and candy-flavoured products that look like lipstick and cell phones. Quebec still has 1.6 million smokers (nearly 24% of the population aged 12 and above). What’s even worse is that 32% – one in three – of our youths (20 to 34 years old) smoke.

“Fewer Quebecers would die from cancer if there was a greater decline in smoking. These are all preventable deaths,” says André Beaulieu, Spokesperson for the CCS – Quebec Division. “The Tobacco Act hasn’t been amended in nine years. The CCS wants a firm commitment from the new government to fight more actively against smoking and demands an amendment to the Tobacco Act in the first 100 days of its term because if nothing is done, even more Quebecers will succumb to cancer in 20 or 30 years.”

Early detection of breast and colorectal cancers

The CCS is convinced that more lives would be saved if Quebecers participated in cancer screening programs that have proven effective, such as the following two tests:

Fecal occult blood tests for colorectal cancer
  • The CCS believes that the implementation of an organized colorectal cancer screening program could save the lives of hundreds of Quebecers every year.
  • The CCS urges the ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux to make the Programme québécois de dépistage du cancer colorectal (PQDCC) available to all Quebecers aged 50 to 74 at the earliest possible.
Mammograms for breast cancer
  • Eight in ten cases of breast cancer are diagnosed in women aged over 50. Mammograms are the best way to detect breast cancer.
  • The CCS works on the ground to encourage women in Quebec to participate to a greater extent in the Québec Breast Cancer Screening Program (PQDCS).
  • The Canadian Cancer Statistics 2014 report has been prepared through a partnership of the Canadian Cancer Society, the Public Health Agency of Canada, Statistics Canada, and provincial/territorial cancer registries.


  1. 80% of skin cancer deaths are due to melanoma.
  2. At least 40% of the new cancer cases reported in Canada are non-melanoma skin cancers. However, an accurate estimate of the real burden of this type of cancer in the country is lacking because unlike melanoma, it is not routinely reported as part of cancer surveillance.

Every day, the Canadian Cancer Society works to save more lives. With the support of thousands of Quebecers, donors and volunteers, we fight to prevent more cancers, enable our researchers to make more discoveries, and help more people touched by the disease. Let’s save more lives. Visit cancer.ca or call us at 1 888 939-3333.

For more information, please contact:

André Beaulieu

Spokesperson and Senior Advisor, Public Relations

Canadian Cancer Society

Quebec Division

Phone: (514) 393-3444