The Canadian Cancer Survivor Network reacts to 2017 cancer statistics

Ottawa, ON – While the latest cancer statistics are shocking, the Canadian Cancer Survivor Network calls on Canadians and the media to take a restrained and balanced view of them.

It is disquieting to think that a loved one or friend or indeed we ourselves may be diagnosed with cancer, given that nearly one in two Canadians will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. But the other side of the coin is that many cancers are now treatable, especially when they are diagnosed early.

And while one in four patients will die of cancer in 2017, the five-year survival rate has increased from 25% in the 1940s to 60% today.

These figures and others can be found in the Canadian Cancer Statistics 2017 released on June 20. This annual report provides the public with an updated look at cancer in Canada, including the following highlights:

  • Nearly 1 in 2 Canadians will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime, and in 2017, 206,200 Canadians will be diagnosed with cancer.
  • Half of new patients will be diagnosed with lung, colorectal, breast and prostate cancers.
  • 80,800 Canadians, or one in four patients, will die of cancer in 2017.
  • The 5-year cancer survival rate has increased from 25% in the 1940s to 60%.

“As cancer cases rise, the number of cancer survivors will grow as well,” pointed out Jackie Manthorne, President and CEO of the Canadian Cancer Survivor Network. “There are about one million cancer survivors in living in Canada today, and with improvements in prevention, early detection and treatment, we can expect that more cancer patients will live longer with a higher quality of life than we’ve seen in the past.  However, the impact of cancer and side effects of treatment can challenge survivors, and the services needed to help them recover from or mitigate these side effects do not always exist.”

“When I was diagnosed with tonsilar and neck cancer 18 years ago, I thought I was in a minority,” said Phil Menger, a cancer survivor living in Abbortsford, B.C. “My eyes bugged out of my head when I saw the latest stats that half the Canadian population would get cancer, and that 90% of those cancers would occur after age 50. I was 52 when diagnosed. Suddenly and sadly I realized what I thought was abnormal is the new normal. But in a way, cancer saved my life, because it forced me to change my habits and lifestyle before we realized how many cancers can be prevented by healthy living.”

The Canadian Cancer Survivor Network encourages Canadians to be proactive about healthy living and to listen to their bodies and seek medical advice when something feels wrong.  Early diagnosis can and does make a big difference in the complexity of treatment and side effects and indeed in mortality.

About the Canadian Cancer Survivor Network

The Canadian Cancer Survivor Network (CCSN) works to connect patients, survivors and other stakeholder groups with decision makers and the wider community to engage in discussion and to act on evidence-based best practices to alleviate the medical, emotional, financial and social costs of cancer. CCSN encourages and conducts research on ways to overcome barriers to optimal cancer care and follow-up for survivors in Canada.

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact CCSN Communications & Social Media Coordinator, Chad Scanlan at, or 613-898-1871.