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Cancer Care Ontario Blog

New cancer statistics: Better outcomes, but increasing need in Ontario

Jan 25, 2018

Michael Sherar

Insights & Perspectives 4 minute read

This year, more than 90,000 people in Ontario will discover they have cancer. Approximately one in two Ontarians are expected to be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime.

Michael Sherar, CEO & President of CCO
CCO President & CEO Michael Sherar

These sobering statistics are from the newly released Ontario Cancer Statistics (OCS) 2018, a comprehensive report that describes the changing burden of cancer in and across Ontario.

While patients and their families are at the centre of everything we do at CCO, data is at the foundation of our work with our partners to create the best cancer system in the world. Now, more than ever, measuring and monitoring cancer burden, trends and progress on cancer control activities are critically important.

Ontario’s population is aging and growing – for the first time in history, there are more Ontarians over the age of 65 than under 15 – and this will have a tremendous impact on our healthcare system. As noted in OCS 2018, the increasing incidence of cancer is largely due to this demographic shift.

Five-year survival rates improving                           

At the same time, OCS 2018 offers some good news.

The cancer mortality rate continues to decline and that decline is accelerating. Five-year survival rates also continue to improve, especially among people diagnosed between the ages of 40 and 79. 

One of the challenges for our healthcare system is that the number of patients requiring treatment is increasing, and the proportion who are living with a cancer diagnosis and need care and follow-up through survivorship is increasing as well.

In addition to OCS 2018, Cancer Care Ontario recently released Burden of Cancer Caused by Infections in Ontario. This report estimates the number of cancer cases diagnosed in Ontario that are caused by infection with certain cancer-causing agents.

One significant finding is that roughly 4% of all new cancers in 2013 could be attributed to seven infectious agents, four of which can, for the most part, be prevented by known methods. Both reports highlight the importance of continuing to strengthen our efforts in the prevention of cancer and other chronic diseases.

As I review the data, charts and graphs in these reports, I am constantly reminded that the numbers reflect human lives. In providing us with a clear picture of cancer in Ontario, CCO’s collection and analysis of data enable our work with our partners to continue to improve the quality and ensure the sustainability of our cancer system for current and future patients and their families.


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