Introduction to Clinical Oncology
Cancer in Canada

Cancer in Canada

Canada is one of the few nations in the world with a population-based cancer registry system that allows cancer patterns to be monitored for the entire Canadian population.[2]


The 2011 Canadian Cancer Statistics report of The Canadian Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute of Canada (link) tells us that:

  • An estimated 177,800 new cases of cancer and 75,000 deaths from cancer will occur in Canada in 2011.

  • Three types of cancer account for the majority of new cases in each sex: prostate, lung and colorectal in males and breast, lung and colorectal in females.

  • Lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer death for both men and women.

  • Colorectal cancer causes 12% of all cancer deaths. 

  • 42% of new cancer cases and 59% of deaths due to cancer occur among those who are at least 70 years old. 

  • Screening for colorectal cancer is recommended for Canadians at average risk between the ages of 50 and 74

  •  There is an east-west gradient in incidence across Canada, likely due to differences in risk factors (e.g., diet, physical activity and family history of the disease) as well as screening intensity.

  • Excluding lung cancer, cancer mortality rates have dropped by 20% in women since 1979.

  • On the basis of current incidence rates, almost 40% of Canadian women and almost 45% of men will develop cancer during their lifetimes.

  • Cancer incidence in children have been relatively stable since 1985, the mortality rates continue to decline (82% survival), resulting in more need for longterm follow-up of late effects of treatment.

  • On the basis of current mortality rates, 24% of women and almost 29% of men, or approximately 1 out of every 4 Canadians, will die from cancer


Behind each number is  a person, a family and a community affected by cancer.



2. Canadian Cancer Society/National Cancer Institute of Canada: Canadian Cancer Statistics 2008, Toronto, Canada, 2008. April 2008, ISSN 0835-2976 accessed March 22, 2009

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