Cancer Will Affect One in Every Two Canadians in Their Lifetime, Says New Report

Cancer will soon become the leading cause of death in Canada. A new report by the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) predicts that one in every two Canadians will be diagnosed with a form of the disease in their lifetime, and one in every four Canadians will die from it.


The lifetime risk stands at 49% for males and 45% for females, according to the report. The CCS emphasizes that this increased risk is primarily a result of a growing and aging population. Roughly 90% of the projected 206,200 Canadians diagnosed this year will be over the age of 50. As life expectancy increases and people live further into old age, the number of cases will continue to rise.


80,800 of Canadians diagnosed are expected to die of cancer in 2017. A large number of them will likely have pancreatic cancer, which currently has the lowest survival rate of all major cancers—just 8%—and is expected to soon become the third leading cause of death in Canada. An increase in investments in cancer research is needed to manage the burden that these increased will have on individuals, the healthcare system, and charities, and to drastically improve patient outcomes for individuals diagnosed with pancreatic or other hard-to-treat cancers. Some have fairly high survival rates (90% over a 5-year period for both testicular cancer and thyroid cancer, for example) that may be able to improve even further with new research and development of treatment methods.


The good news is that advances in treatment, research, and diagnostics have drastically increased the disease’s survival rate to roughly 60% today, compared to just 25% in the 1940s. Additionally, these new findings will help to raise awareness of risks and will educate people on prevention. “Actions like quitting smoking, eating well, being physically active and practising sun safety, along with appropriate cancer screening tests, can go a long way to reducing your risk,” says Dr. Leah Smith, a CCS epidemiologist and one of the report’s authors.


“Almost half of us will be diagnosed with at least one form of cancer at some point during our lifetime,” says Smith, “The good news is we can do something about it. About half of all cancers can be prevented and research continues to improve the outlook for people with cancer.”


These findings are expected to change the face of cancer prevention and treatment in Canada over the long-term. The CCS invested $40 million in cancer research in 2016, a total which will hopefully increase in order to sufficiently address the issues that this study has raised.


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