Nearly 1 in 2 Canadians expected to get cancer. Here’s why

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The Canadian Cancer Society says one in two Canadians is expected to get cancer, and one in four will die from the disease. Allison Vuchnich explains which cancers have better survival rates than others – Jun 20, 2017

Nearly one in two Canadians will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime, the Canadian Cancer Society is warning in a new report.

The lifetime risk for Canadian men is 49 per cent, while it sits at 45 per cent for women. Lifetime risk is an individual’s likelihood of being diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lives.

The rise in cancer cases is because Canadians are living longer on a whole — age is a key factor in cancer susceptibility. The country isn’t just grappling with an aging population, it’s also growing too, driving diagnoses up, the society said in its report released Tuesday morning.

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“This sobering statistic highlights the fact that cancer is a disease that will touch almost all of us in some way. Almost half of us will be diagnosed with at least one form of cancer at some point during our lifetime,” Dr. Leah Smith, study co-author and an epidemiologist at the national non-profit, said

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“The numbers seem shocking and alarming but it’s reminding Canadians how many people will be touched by cancer. It takes a huge toll on individuals who have a cancer diagnosis, on their loved ones, on the health-care system, on charities like the Canadian Cancer Society,” Rob Nuttall, assistant director of cancer control policy at the society, told Global News.

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An estimated 206,200 Canadians will be diagnosed with cancer in 2017 alone and 90 per cent of cases are in Canadians who are 50 and older, according to the society’s projections. The report was put together by the CCS, the Public Health Agency of Canada and Statistics Canada.

One in four Canadians will die of cancer — that’s 80,800 Canadians in 2017 alone. But there are some silver linings.

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Overall cancer survival rates have increased: in the 1940s, only 25 per cent of Canadians survived their diagnoses, but now 60 per cent do.

Some cancers, like thyroid and testicular have five-year survival rates of over 90 per cent.

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Others don’t fare as well, though. Pancreatic cancer has the lowest survival rate of all of the major cancers at only eight per cent. It’s anticipated to be the third-leading cause of cancer death in Canada.

Of new cancer cases, lung, colorectal, breast and prostate cancers lead the list. Lung cancer is, hands down, the most commonly diagnosed cancer overall, making up 14 per cent of all diagnoses. It’s also the leading cause of cancer deaths among Canadians. In this case, tobacco use causes more than 85 per cent of lung cancer cases.

Colorectal and breast cancer are the second and third most common cancers diagnosed in the country.

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Keep in mind, Canadians can reduce their risk of cancer, too. They can focus on a healthier lifestyle by cutting out smoking, excessive drinking, eating well, exercising and practicing sun safety, for starters.

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Read the full Cancer Society report.

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