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5 Surprising Stats About Cancer In Canada And Around The World
February 4, 2014
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Doctors examine cancer patient PET scans. (Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Today is World Cancer Day — an initiative of the Union for International Cancer Control that seeks to raise awareness and offer education about the disease worldwide. Below, we've rounded up five of the most surprising statistics about cancer in Canada. It's not an exhaustive list of facts — but one that may spark useful conversation about getting checked and living healthy.

1. Two in 5 Canadians will develop cancer in their lifetime. 1 in 4 Canadians will die of cancer.

According to the Canadian Cancer Society's most recent report, on average more than 500 Canadians will be diagnosed with cancer every day. Men have a 46 per cent probablility and women have a 41 per cent probability of developing cancer within their lifetimes. There are a number of reasons for this high rate, chief among them Canada's aging population.

2. Canadians over the age of 50 represent 88 per cent of all new cancer cases.

And, according to the Canadian Cancer Society report, nearly half of all new cases will occur in people 70 or older.

3. More than half of new cancer cases will be lung, breast, colorectal and prostate cancer.

Also according to that report, increased incidence in breast and colorectal cancer might have to do with increased screening — which is a good thing, as diagnosing and treating these cancers early can lead to higher survival rates. 

4. Canadian women have the most lung cancer deaths in the developed world.

According to a report from the Canadian Institute for Health Information, Canadian women die of lung cancer 58 times per 100,000, whereas women in "peer" countries — including Australia France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden, the United States and the United Kingdom — have an average lung cancer death rate of 43 per 100,000.   

5. Cancer rates are growing. 

According to the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the disease is growing at "an alarming pace" worldwide. A report released in 2012 said that new cancer cases rose to an estimated 14  million a year — and that number is set to grow to 22 million over the next 20 years. These are worldwide figures. Preventative care and proper treatment can help curb these numbers, the report says.

Below is a roundup of events marking World Cancer Day across Canada today:

  • Light the Night, a Canada-wide initiative by the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada, will feature various walks and events organized across the country. Find out more »
  • Limited edition fruit arrangements are being sold in Moncton in support of Brandon Dempsey, a local teenager who died from a brain tumour in 2012. Find out more »
  • The Alberta Cancer Foundation's Campaign 43, a reference to the 43 Albertans diagnosed with cancer every day, is launching an awareness campaign with various events today. Find out more »
  • Alberta Health Services is offering the chance to take a virtual look inside Alberta's cancer care facilities to help people understand the lives of cancer patients and hospital staff and volunteers
  • The Campaign to Control Cancer is hosting a panel discussion in Toronto in association with the MaRS Discovery Centre, the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation and the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research. Find out more »

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