Cancer statistics at a glance
Cancer statistics tell us how many people in Canada are diagnosed with and die from cancer each year. They show us the trends in new cancer cases and cancer deaths.
Cancer statistics also tell us the likelihood of surviving a cancer diagnosis and the percentage of people who are alive years after a cancer diagnosis.
Canadian provinces and territories collect data on cancer cases and cancer deaths. These data are combined to provide a picture of how cancer affects all of Canada.
Statistics are an important part of healthcare planning and of measuring the success of cancer control.
Incidence and mortality
Incidence is the number of new cases of cancer. Mortality is the number of deaths due to cancer. Researchers use the most up-to-date data available and statistical methods to estimate the number of new cancer cases and deaths for the current year.
Researchers estimated that there would be 225,800 new cancer cases and 83,300 cancer deaths in Canada in 2020. (The number of estimated new cases does not include non-melanoma skin cancer cases.)
Cancer is the leading cause of death in Canada and is responsible for 30% of all deaths.
Chances (probability) of developing or dying from cancer
- Nearly 1 in 2 Canadians (45% of men and 43% of women) is expected to develop cancer during their lifetime.
- About 1 out of 4 Canadians (26% of men and 23% of women) is expected to die from cancer.
Trends in cancer rates
There are many different ways of measuring and reporting cancer survival statistics. Net survival is an estimate of the percentage of people who are alive at some point in time after their cancer diagnosis, accounting for other causes of death. Most survival statistics are reported for a specific time period, usually 5 years.
Based on data from 2012 to 2014, 63% of Canadians diagnosed with cancer are expected to survive for 5 years or more after a cancer diagnosis. This is up from 55% in the early 1990s. In the 1940s, survival was about 25%.
Survival rates vary from low to high depending on the type of cancer. Based on 2012–2014 data:
• The 5-year net survival rate for lung cancer is low (19%).
• The 5-year net survival rate for colorectal cancer is about average (65%).
• The 5-year net survival rate is high for prostate cancer (93%) and breast cancer (88%).