A new territorial study says cancer rates in the Northwest Territories are the same as the rest of Canada, despite the common belief that cancer rates in the territory are higher.

The territory's chief public health officer says the size of the communities may contribute to that belief.

"In small communities nobody is anonymous, so it's a lot more visible," said Dr. Andre Corriveau. "You know, if you live in Montreal, you wouldn't have a sense of how many people have cancer in your neighbourhood except if it's somebody you know personally. Whereas in Fort Resolution, anybody that's diagnosed with cancer is somebody's relative and everybody finds out about it, so you have a greater sense of the impact of cancer."

Cancer is the leading cause of death in the Northwest Territories and Canada.

In the N.W.T., about 111 new cases of cancer are diagnosed each year.

The report also indicates there's no difference between cancer rates among aboriginal and non-aboriginal people in the Northwest Territories.