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Cancer patterns in Canada.

By D T Wigle, Y Mao, R Semenciw and H I Morrison


Cancer is diagnosed in about 70 000 Canadians each year and is the leading cause of the loss of potential years of life before age 75 among women. Life-threatening forms of cancer will develop in at least one of every three Canadian newborns during their lifetimes if current cancer risks are not reduced. Lung and breast cancers are, respectively, the leading causes of premature death due to cancer among men and women. Compared with other countries Canada has low death rates for stomach cancer but high rates for certain smoking-related cancers (those of the lung and of the mouth and throat), leukemia and cancers of the colon, breast and lymphatic tissues. Newfoundland has the highest rates of death from stomach cancer and the lowest rates of death from prostatic cancer, whereas the western provinces have the opposite pattern. The rates of death from lung cancer among men are highest in Quebec, the province with the highest prevalence of smoking. In Canada the overall rates of death from cancer increased by 32% among men from 1951 to 1983. However, among women they declined by 12% from 1951 to 1976 and increased from 1976 to 1983, particularly among those aged 55 to 74. The rising rates of death due to lung cancer were primarily responsible for these increases. Lung cancer will likely displace breast cancer as the leading cancer killer of Canadian women by 1990. Given the relatively low survival rates for cancers caused by smoking and the lack of substantial improvement in rates for the most frequent types of cancer, preventive strategies that include effective measures to reduce tobacco consumption are urgently required

Topics: Research Article
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