Responsible for about 30 percent of all deaths, cancer is the leading cause of death in Canada, according to figures reported by the Canadian Cancer Society. While cannabis can’t cure cancer, it can drastically reduce the severity of symptoms and improve quality of life for patients. How? Well, research shows that both THC and CBD (two of the key active components found in cannabis) can stimulate appetite, which may help with the weight loss, anorexia and cachexia that many cancer patients experience. In addition, cannabis is very effective at combating the nausea caused by conventional cancer treatments such as chemotherapy.

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 the impact of cancer for all of Canada.

Statistics are an important part of healthcare planning and measuring the success of cancer control.

Incidence and mortality

Incidence is the total number of new cases of cancer. Mortality is the number of deaths due to cancer. To provide the most current cancer statistics, 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.

An estimated 206,200 new cases of cancer and 80,800 deaths from cancer occurred in Canada in 2017. (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.

In 2017, an estimated:

103,100 Canadian men were diagnosed with cancer and 42,600 men died from cancer.

103,200 Canadian women were diagnosed with cancer and 38,200 women died from cancer.

On average, 565 Canadians were diagnosed with cancer every day.

On average, 221 Canadians died from cancer every day.

Lung, breast, colorectal and prostate cancer are the most common types of cancer in Canada (excluding non-melanoma skin cancer). Based on 2017 estimates:

These cancers account for half (50%) of all new cancer cases.

Prostate cancer accounts for about one-fifth (21%) of all new cancer cases in men.

Lung cancer accounts for 14% of all new cases of cancer.

Breast cancer accounts for about one-quarter (25%) of all new cancer cases in women.

Colorectal cancer accounts for 13% of all new cancer cases.

Trends in cancer rates

Cancer is a disease that mostly affects Canadians aged 50 and older, but it can occur at any age.

Across Canada, cancer incidence rates vary because of differences in risk factors (including risk behaviors) and early detection practices. Similarly, rates of cancer death vary because of differences in incidence, but also potentially differences in access to and outcomes of cancer control activities (for example, screening, diagnosis, treatment and follow-up) across the country.

Chances (probability) of developing or dying from cancer

Based on 2010 estimates:

1 in 2 Canadians (49% of men and 45% of women) is expected to develop cancer during their lifetime.

Based on 2012 estimates:

1 out of 4 Canadians (28% of men and 24% of women) is expected to die from cancer.


Prevalence is the total number of people living with a diagnosis of cancer at a certain point in time. This statistic can be useful in planning healthcare services for people recently diagnosed with cancer and for cancer survivors.

In 2009, about 810,045 Canadians diagnosed with cancer in the previous 10 years were alive. This represented about 2.4% of the Canadian population or 1 out of every 42 Canadians.

The number of newly diagnosed cancer cases in Canada is increasing, but survival rates are also increasing. These improved survival rates help account for the growing number of Canadian cancer survivors.


Survival is an estimate of the percentage of people who are alive at some point in time after their cancer diagnosis. There are many different ways of measuring and reporting cancer survival statistics. Most survival statistics are reported for a specific time period, namely 5 years.

Based on 2006–2008 estimates, over 60% of Canadians diagnosed with cancer are expected to survive for 5 years or more after a cancer diagnosis.

Survival rates vary from low to high depending on the type of cancer. For example, based on 2006–2008 estimates:

The 5-year net survival rate for lung cancer is low (17%).

The 5-year net survival rate for colorectal cancer is about average (64%).

The 5-year net survival rate is high for prostate cancer (95%) and breast cancer (87%).

Between 1992–1994 and 2006–2008, survival rates increased from 53% to 60% for all cancers combined.