A new report released by the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) shows that the number of people living with or beyond cancer in this country continues to grow, to over 1.5 million people. This prevalence figure, previously estimated to be 1 million a decade ago, is caused by both increased cancer survival and incidence, making it both a reason for optimism and concern.
The report – Canadian Cancer Statistics: A 2022 special report on cancer prevalence – was developed by the Canadian Cancer Statistics Advisory Committee in collaboration with CCS, Statistics Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada.
The report details that at the beginning of 2018, an estimated 1.5 million people alive in Canada had been diagnosed with cancer in the previous 25 years; approximately 60% of whom were diagnosed 5 to 25 years ago. This highlights the high number of people living long-term with or beyond cancer.
“Investments in research are paying off in the form of better methods of detection and more effective treatments, and as a result, we’re now seeing more people surviving cancer and living longer with and after the disease,” explains Dr Jennifer Gillis, Senior Manager of Surveillance at CCS. “There has been much accomplished for us to collectively celebrate but these new data also reveal that our work is not nearly done.”
The rising prevalence is also due to rising cancer incidence, or more cases diagnosed.
In 2012, approximately 193,000 people were diagnosed with cancer in Canada, rising to approximately 206,000 in 2017. Today, it is estimated that 233,900 people will be diagnosed with cancer in 2022. This growth is largely due to Canada’s growing and aging population and emphasizes the importance of cancer prevention.
“Increasing prevalence – more people being diagnosed and more surviving – creates long-term strain on our healthcare system and underlines why we must work together to create a system that can evolve as patients’ needs evolve from diagnosis through survival or end of life care,” adds Gillis.
As more people live with or beyond cancer, an already stretched healthcare system will be faced with additional pressures.
According to a September 2022 CCS-led report, Living at the crossroads of COVID-19 and cancer, the pandemic has meant delays and interruptions in care for many, which may result in late-stage diagnoses as our healthcare system struggles to cope with additional demand. Without new investments and supporting policies, our healthcare system will be under-resourced to keep up with the growing number of Canadians who will be impacted by cancer.
That’s why CCS is advocating for all levels of government to work together to help create a sustainable health and cancer care system for all Canadians. With insights from the report, we can help decision-makers to develop and evaluate health policy, assessing the types and amounts of health resources needed and informing health research priorities.
To read the report, visit cancer.ca/statistics