Canadian Centre for Economic Analysis

On the brink of a cancer crisis: Within 5 years, it will be Canada's No. 1 killer

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Canada is lurching toward a crisis in cancer control and there is a "real and present danger" the country's health-care system will not be able to afford treatment for the tidal wave of patients who will get the disease in the decades ahead, a major new report says. The warning is in a blueprint for action on a national strategy prepared by the country's cancer experts. The document was more than five years in the making.

Obtained by CanWest News Service, it outlines how Canada's aging and growing population will create a steady rise in the number of people who get cancer and who die from the disease. "Cancer has an ever-expanding impact on the lives of Canadians and on the economic interests of the country," the report says. "Yet Canada is falling behind other developed countries in meeting this growing cancer burden." There will be a "significant increase in the number of new cancer cases," the report says, adding this spike in demand for medical services "will cause inflationary pressures and put the sustainability of the health-care system at risk".

It's estimated 149,000 Canadians will be diagnosed with cancer this year - 3,500 more than last year. As well, 69,500 Canadians will die of the disease - 1,200 more than last year. On the basis of current trends, 38 per cent of Canadian women and 44 per cent of men will develop cancer during their lifetimes. As well, 24 per cent of women and 29 per cent of men will die from cancer. Within the next five years, it will replace cardiovascular disease as the No. 1 killer in Canada.