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Cancer in Canada - Statistics & Facts

Cancer is the leading cause of death in Canada with Canadians having about a 24 percent lifetime probability of dying from some form of cancer. The most common types of new cancer cases in 2020 included lung and bronchus, breast, and colorectal. The estimated rate of all new cancer cases in that year was around 519 per 100,000 people. The incidence rate among males has been higher than that among females over the last few decades; however, the incidence rate among males has decreased in recent years whereas the rate among females has increased.

It was predicted that, in 2020, there would be around 83,300 deaths due to cancer in Canada. According to the latest figures, there is about a 26 percent chance that a male in Canada will die from some type of cancer and a 23 percent chance for females. Cancer mortality rates and incidence rates in Canada differ by gender, but also by geography, with the highest cancer incidence rates found in the provinces of Newfoundland and Labrador, and Ontario. Nunavut has by far the highest cancer mortality rate with around 253 deaths per 100,000 population, compared to a rate of 228 per 100,000 population in Newfoundland and Labrador, the province with the second highest cancer mortality rate.

Some common and well-known risk factors for cancer include age, sun exposure, tobacco and alcohol use, a poor diet, and being overweight. As the dangers of tobacco use have become more recognized and policies have been implemented limiting use and promotion, rates of smoking have decreased. In 2019, about 15 percent of Canadians were smoking currently, daily, or occasionally, a decrease from 23 percent in 2003. In contrast, rates of Canadian adolescents who are overweight or obese have increased in recent years. This is likely due to poor diet and a lack of exercise. The consumption of sugary drinks has been associated with higher rates of overweight and obesity, and is predicted to be responsible for almost 57,000 new cases of breast cancer in Canada from 2016 to 2041. Furthermore, sugary beverages are forecast to cause over 8,000 deaths due to colon and rectum cancer over this time period.

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Cancer in Canada

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