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Impact of Cancer

 

Together we will... reduce the burden of cancer on patients, caregivers and the healthcare system

Image of Anya H.

“Brandy was extremely sick after the stem cell transplant. Even though we both have a really positive attitude, it was a solid year of misery, with one complication after another after another after another. We started to wonder what normal would even look like for us.”

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Despite great progress in cancer prevention and treatment—smoking restrictions, screening programs, new therapies, etc.—cancer remains a tremendous burden on individuals, caregivers and the healthcare system.

Forty-five per cent of men and 41 per cent of women in Ontario will develop cancer in their lifetime.

Increasingly, Ontarians with cancer also have other chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and arthritis. Multiple health issues complicate treatment, requiring more complex and therefore more expensive care.

In Ontario, healthcare already consumes more than 40% of every dollar spent on provincial programs. This figure will grow unless we use our resources wisely to slow the rate of cancer growth.

Four body sites account for more than half of all cancers. In men, these are prostate, lung and colorectal cancer. In women, the most common cancer are breast, lung and colorectal.

Behind the numbers

Of course, behind these statistics are human lives: Patients, their families and loved ones, and Ontario’s healthcare professionals who care for them all bearing, in some way, the impact of cancer.

As the prevalence of cancer rises, and as people live longer with cancer, we must seek ways to reduce cancer’s burden on individuals and the healthcare system, while improving patients’ and families’ experiences.

Cancer in Aboriginal populations: A unique burden

Until recently, First Nations people in Ontario had lower cancer rates than other Ontarians. Now cancer rates are increasing, and they will likely continue to increase more for First Nations Ontarians than for the general population. The rising burden of cancer among Aboriginal peoples has been attributed at least in part to the higher prevalence of several modifiable risk factors such as smoking, poor diet and obesity.

Most strikingly, while colorectal cancer incidence rates have been essentially stable over time in the general Ontario population, rates more than quadrupled among First Nations people from the late 1960s to 2001, attaining or exceeding rates in the non-First Nations population. In addition, survival following a cancer diagnosis is poorer in First Nations people compared to other Ontarians.