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The 10 Most Common Types of Cancers in Canada

By Matt Lalande in Long-Term Disability on March 16, 2021

The 10 Most Common Types of Cancers in Canada

Cancer is a leading cause of long-term disability and death in Canada, and while there are over 100 different types of cancer, some kinds of cancer are more common than others.

Our Hamilton disability lawyers have worked with many cancer patients and witnessed firsthand the impact this disease can have on patients and their families. It is our focus to provide as much information, assistance, and peace of mind as possible so you can reduce the stress and anxiety you are going through to focus on recovering as comfortably as possible.

Despite advancements in early detection, treatment options, and research studies, cancer is a significant threat to Canadians – 1 in 2 Canadians will be diagnosed with cancer within their lifetime, and 1 in 4 Canadians will die from it. According to the Canadian Cancer Society, 48% of all cancer cases in Canada are attributed to 4 types of cancer: breast cancer, prostate cancer, lung cancer, and colorectal cancer.

Read more about the 10 most common types of cancers in Canada, and what to do if you have been denied long-term disability benefits.

What are the 10 most common types of cancer in Canada?

1. Lung Cancer – Most cases of lung cancer begin with malignant cells in the lungs. Smoking is the largest risk factor for developing lung cancer, but it is also possible to develop lung cancer due to other risk factors such as exposure to chemicals such as asbestos and air pollution.

Lung cancer comprises approximately 14% of all new cancer cases in Canada between both men and women, and it is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among all Canadians. Sadly, lung cancer is also the deadliest common cancer – more Canadians die from lung cancer than prostate cancer, breast cancer, and colorectal cancer combined. The 5-year net survival rate (the percentage of patients with this cancer who survive for at least 5 years) for lung cancer depends on the stage, and can be as low as 5% for a stage 4 diagnosis or up to 17% in stage 1.

2. Prostate Cancer – In men, the prostate is a small, walnut-sized gland responsible for creating prostatic fluid, which forms the basis for the production of semen, as well as controlling male hormones and urine flow. Prostate cancer occurs when malignant cells are formed and grouped in the prostate gland.

20%, or one fifth, of all male cancer diagnoses in Canada are attributed to prostate cancer. As men grow older, the prostate naturally enlarges, which leads to a variety of potential conditions or issues and contributes to a higher risk of prostate cancer. Fortunately, prostate cancer has a 5-year net survival rate of approximately 93%, which is high. However, a diagnosis of prostate cancer can have a significant long-term impact on male fertility and sexuality, leading to conditions such as infertility and erectile dysfunction.

3. Breast Cancer – Breast cancer begins when malignant cells develop in the breast and form tumors that can spread to nearby tissues and other areas of the body. Early detection is key for breast cancer, and developments such as education on monitoring for lumps and mammogram technology can increase the survival rate when breast cancer is detected early enough.

While it primarily impacts women, it is also possible (but less common) for men to develop breast cancer. Further, breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among Canadian women, comprising approximately one quarter, or 25%, of all cancer cases. The 5-year net survival rate for breast cancer is relatively high, at 88%, due to the vast amount of research and treatment options available.

4. Colorectal Cancer – Colorectal cancer is cancer in the colon and the rectum, both of which are located inside the large intestine. It begins when malignant cells form a group, or a tumor, that can damage the tissues in the colon and rectum and metastasize to other parts of the body. The colon is responsible for absorbing nutrients and waste and passing stool through to the rectum. In turn, the rectum passes stool to the anus, where it is expelled from the body.

12% of Canadian cancer cases are attributed to colorectal cancer. While this cancer affects both men and women, it is more commonly diagnosed in men. Advancements in colorectal screening have increased the chances of early detection and treatment, and as such the 5-year net survival rate is 64%.

5. Bladder Cancer – Just as it sounds, bladder cancer occurs when cancerous cells are found in the bladder. The bladder is responsible for storing urine before it is sent through the urethra and expelled out of the body. Bladder cancer can be particularly devastating because it has a direct impact on one of the body’s core functions – disposing of waste. Further, bladder cancer can be more difficult to detect because its core symptoms are blood in the urine, pain during urination, or frequent urination, and many of those symptoms are common in other conditions, illnesses, and diseases. Therefore, with lower chances of early detection, it is possible for bladder cancer to develop and metastasize and worsen before it is noticed and treated. 

Bladder cancer is approximately four times more common in males than females. This is partly because one of the most significant risk factors is smoking, and more Canadian males smoke than females. The 5-year net survival rate for bladder cancer in Canada is 73%.

6. Skin Cancer (Melanoma and Non-Melanoma) – Skin cancer, known as melanoma, is actually the eighth most commonly diagnosed cancer in Canada. It occurs in the melanocyte cells, which are important cells that transport melanin throughout the skin. As a result, melanoma is first detected through the presence of moles that have either grown abnormally or have changed in size, shape, or colour. The skin is the body’s largest organ, and is commonly exposed to harmful risk factors such as UV rays from the sun, hot temperatures, and germs or bacteria. Melanoma has a net 5-year survival rate of approximately 88%.

Non-melanoma skin cancers are technically more common in Ontario, but the health system does not routinely collect as much data about them. These cancers begin in the skin’s basal cells and squamous cells as opposed to the melanocyte cells.

7. Thyroid Cancer – The thyroid is a gland that sits in the neck, below the larynx, with a lobe on each side. It produces hormones that control a variety of the functions in the body, primarily the breakdown of food and nutrients into energy and controlling calcium levels. For this reason, the thyroid is often associated with weight management. Thyroid cancer occurs when malignant tumours grow in the thyroid.

Thyroid cancer has one of the highest 5-year net survival rates, sitting at approximately 98%. It impacts more females than males, and this is largely attributed to hormonal differences between genders as well as the higher likelihood for women to develop thyroid diseases. 90% of all thyroid cancers are papillary carcinoma and follicular carcinoma.

8. Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma – Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is one of the multiple types of lymphoma, a cancer found in the lymphocyte cells of the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is a core component of the body’s immune system, and is responsible for transferring fluid through the body’s lymph nodes to create antibodies and fight bacteria. For this reason, non-Hodgkin lymphoma can begin anywhere in the body. 

For non-Hodgkin lymphoma, the 5-year net survival rate is approximately 66%. Sadly, this is also one of the more commonly diagnosed cancers in children. Typically, non-Hodgkin lymphoma develops more often in men than women.

9. Kidney and Renal Pelvis Cancer – Kidneys are responsible for moving waste through the body, transforming waste into urine, and producing red blood cells that help with blood pressure and bone health. The renal pelvis plays an important role in transferring urine from the kidneys to the bladder. When malignant groups of cells form in the kidneys and renal pelvis, cancer develops and can spread to other areas of the body. Heavy alcohol use is one of the most significant risk factors for kidney cancer, as is obesity, tobacco use, and certain genetic conditions.

In Ontario, kidney and renal pelvis cancer impacts more males than females. The 5-year net survival rate for kidney and renal pelvis cancer is 67%, but it can have long-term consequences such as kidney failure.

10. Uterus/Uterine Cancer – Uterine cancer, or cancer that begins in the uterus, is the most common type of cancer in the female reproductive system. The uterus is responsible for developing and growing a fetus during pregnancy, and housing it in the womb. Most uterine cancers are classified as endometrial carcinoma, which develops when malignant cells are found in the uterine lining. Typically, the risk of developing uterine cancer is increased by hormonal factors or changes, such as hormone replacement therapy, never giving birth, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), and early menstruation or late menopause.

While cancer in the uterus is treatable and has a positive 5-year net survival rate of 81%, it can have devastating long-term consequences that can impact survivors – the biggest of which is infertility or inability to become pregnant. 

Cancer and Long-Term Disability Benefits

Many studies show that for cancer survivors, work remains important and a form of a return “to a balanced life.”   A recent article in the British Journal of Cancer tells us that Cancer diagnoses in individuals who are still at the working age are becoming more common, with almost half of the adult cancer survivors being younger than 65 years old. With the sustained improvement in treatment and prognosis of many forms of cancer, an increasing number of survivors of cancer return-to-work following treatment or continue to work during therapy.

However, for many cancer survivors, return to work is not as easy as it seems. Anxiety and depression sometimes permanently sets in, as does overall fatigue and weakness. Many cancer survivors report poorer health conditions than they had pre-diagnosis, overall decreased work productivity and the need to take a substantial amount of time off work for medical appointments and rest due to increased pain and fatigue.

Luckily many cancer survivors who experience financial hardship have short term and long-term disability plans to help mitigate against financial burdens when they are unable to sustain the demands of work while they are sick, in treatment, in recovery – or afterwards. Disability benefits are often available through employer group benefit plans or purchased privately. 

Have you been denied your long-term disability benefits as a cancer survivor?

Unfortunately many disability carriers refuse to believe that cancer survivors are unable to work or refuse to believe that cancer is a severe impairment. Many claims adjusters believe that once cancer is beaten, the claimant should simply be able to “get back to work” or should be able to “do something.”  Adjuters often go so far as refusing to comply with the claimant’s own doctor’s instructions and insstead choose to rely on their own in-house doctors – who are often paid employees of the insurance company. 

If htis happens – DO NOT give up on your claim. Call us today, no matter where you are in the Province at 1-844-LALANDE or local in the Hamilton / GTA at 905-333-8888.

You do not have to suffer in silence or live with a denied disability claim and the financial burden it can cause. Meet with our disability lawyers in person or video Zoom and we will go over your options with you in a free consultation. We know that you likely have many questions and are going through a significant amount of stress, and we’re always happy to answer your questions at no cost to you.

Since 2003, Matt Lalande has been working with cancer patients who have been denied or cut off from their long-term disability benefits. He has litigated against the major insurance carriers in Canada, recovering millions of dollars in disability benefit payments for people across Ontario. 

1 King Street East, Suite 1705

Hamilton, On L8P 1A4

*The above information was approved by Matt Lalande or another lawyer at Lalande Personal Injury Lawyers. The information comes from legal experience, trial experience, extensive medical research and discussion with medical professionals, medical journal review and updates and/or consultations with fellow friends and colleagues in the legal and medical field.



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