Cancer facts and statistics

Cancer facts and statistics

First and foremost, please note that these statistics are estimates based on data from 2010 for Quebec and 2017-2018 for the rest of Canada.
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We are providing you with a summary of some of the facts and statistics on cancer to help you understand and guide you through everything you may find out about the subject. Although the estimates provided are not accurate forecasts, they do provide a good indication of the actual situation.

The number of cancer cases is on the rise

In 2021, 57,500 Quebecers are expected to be diagnosed with cancer, which represents 158 new cases every day. This number has been increasing for several years and is expected to increase even more in the years to come. It is the result primarily of aging and population growth. It is also estimated that in 2021, 22,200 people in the province will die of cancer, at a rate of 61 deaths per day.

This means that on average in Quebec, someone learns that they have cancer every 9 minutes. Every 24 minutes, someone dies of it. In fact, cancer is the leading cause of death in Quebec, ahead of  cardiovascular disease.

Despite the increase in the number of cancer cases, the mortality rate from the disease has decreased by 22% among women and by over 37% among men in Canada since 1988. Overall, for all cancers combined, the net 5-year survival rate increased from 55% in the early 1990s to about 64% in 2021. These advances are linked to improvements in cancer screening practice, advances in treatment and to some lifestyle changes, including reduced tobacco use. Measures such as quitting smoking, eating well, being physically active and protecting yourself from the sun can go a long way towards reducing your risk of cancer.

Cancer in Quebec

In Quebec:

  • Prostate cancer is the type of cancer most often diagnosed in men
  • Breast cancer is the type of cancer most often diagnosed in women
  • Lung and bronchus cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in both men and women

We estimate that in 2021 :

  • 4,600 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer
  • 4,800 men will be diagnosed with lung and bronchus cancer
  • 3,600 men will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer
  • 6,700 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer
  • 4,100 women will be diagnosed with lung and bronchus cancer
  • 2,800 women will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer

And :

  • 3,400 men will die of lung and bronchus cancer
  • 1,400 men will die of colorectal cancer
  • 980 men will die of prostate cancer
  • 3,000 women will die of lung and bronchus cancer
  • 1,400 women will die of breast cancer

1,200 women will die of colorectal cancer

Usefulness and limitations of statistics

Statistics are tools that are designed to illustrate data related to a given population and not to illustrate the particular situation of an individual. They can therefore be used to:

  • Describe the health status of a population
  • Evaluate a test, treatment, or therapeutic trial
  • Look for and identify causal factors
  • Assess the quality and control of certain practices
  • Assess and establish the health care economic system
  • Illustrate the probability of healing, remission or recurrence

However, statistics can’t be interpreted as individual predictors of cure, remission or relapse; they are not certainties.

We can’t base the chances of recovery from cancer on statistics. There are many variables to consider, such as the type of cancer, its location, the stage of the disease and the response to treatment.

To learn more about the various topics related to cancer, please contact our Info-cancer hotline at 1 800 363-0063. A specialized oncology nurse will listen to you, answer all your questions and give you the support you need.

Source: Canadian Cancer Statistics 2021

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Cancer screening

With early detection and better investigation and treatment methods, the survival rate for Canadians with cancer is over 60%. By comparison, in the 1940s, this stood at about 25%.

Cancer classification: TNM, grade, stage

Learn more about the various cancer classification systems.

Cancer prevention

While many aspects of cancer remain unknown at this time, it is possible for you to adopt lifestyle habits that can help you prevent the disease.

Definition of cancer

Normally, your body's cells grow in a controlled manner. They divide when necessary and die when they have divided too many times or when they are damaged.