The Impact of Cancer on Canada

Living in a big city or a smaller centre can affect people’s chances of getting cancer and surviving it. Canadians in rural and remote areas are more likely to be diagnosed with lung and colorectal cancer, and more likely to die from those cancers and from prostate cancer than people in urban areas, according to a 2014 Canadian Partnership Against Cancer report. Part of the reason is higher smoking and obesity rates in less-urban places. Women in rural areas wait longer to have abnormal mammogram results checked, and a smaller percentage of rural patients undergo radiation, the rate dropping the further they are from a radiation-treatment facility. 

In 2017, an estimated:

  • 103,100 Canadian men were diagnosed with cancer and 42,600 men died from cancer.
  • 103,200 Canadian women were diagnosed with cancer and 38,200 women died from cancer.
  • On average, 565 Canadians were diagnosed with cancer every day.
  • On average, 221 Canadians died from cancer every day.

Lung, breast, colorectal and prostate cancer are the most common types of cancer in Canada (excluding non-melanoma skin cancer). Based on 2017 estimates:

  • These cancers account for half (50%) of all new cancer cases.
  • Prostate cancer accounts for about one-fifth (21%) of all new cancer cases in men.
  • Lung cancer accounts for 14% of all new cases of cancer.
  • Breast cancer accounts for about one-quarter (25%) of all new cancer cases in women.
  • Colorectal cancer accounts for 13% of all new cancer cases.
According to the Canadian Cancer Society’s national statistics, Nova Scotia has the most new cancer cases in the country for both men and women, and the highest cancer death rate in Canada for women and second-highest death rate for men.
• Nova Scotia has the second-highest mortality rates from colorectal cancer in Canada, second only to Newfoundland and Labrador. 
• Nova Scotia has the highest lung cancer mortality rate among females in Canada. 
• The cervical cancer incidence rate is higher in Nova Scotia than any other province.
Yukon has the lowest rate of new cancer in Canada, but the mortality rate in the Yukon is the second highest in the country. The top three causes of cancer death in this territory-lung cancer, colorectal cancer, and prostate cancer-are generally higher than Canadian averages but there are not a lot of reliable statistics for this territory. of the small population numbers in the territories, only five-year averages were available. Access to specialist medical care and screening likely has an impact on cancer diagnosis and survival rates in more remote regions of the country.
Alberta has the second lowest estimated rate of new cancer cases. Alberta also has one of the second lowest lung cancer mortality rates for females in Canada and one of the lowest prostate cancer rates for males. But Alberta may soon see a rise in cancer cases (along with the Territories) as statistics predict an increase in people over the age of 65 in the future. There’s also a prediction that esophageal cancers in Alberta will dramatically rise, perhaps due to the aging population.

Through proper education cancer can be prevented, life expectancy can be increased, and quality of life both during and after treatment can be improved exponentially. The Cancer Exercise Training Institute (CETI), a United States-based organization, has trained over 10,000 health and fitness professionals to become Cancer Exercise Specialists since 2004.  CETI and it’s regional affiliates are bringing the Cancer Exercise Specialist Advanced Qualification training to Canada in 2019.

Through the comprehensive training health and fitness professionals seeking to attain a higher level of mastery and work with cancer patients during and after cancer surgery and treatment and into survivorship. Participants will expand their skills as a CES and gain a complete understanding of the entire cancer process from diagnosis and treatment to reconstruction and survivorship. The unique and individualized programming will help to improve the patient’s ability to cope with the mental and physical stress following cancer diagnosis and treatment. The comprehensive programming covers 26 types of cancer, as well as pediatrics, with special emphasis on breast cancer and breast reconstruction.

“The Cancer Exercise Specialist is to CANCER what Cardiac Rehab. is to the HEART PATIENT.” – Andrea Leonard

Regular continuing education is required to maintain the high-standard of expertise required to work with this population.

The benefits of exercise during treatment include:

  1. Increased energy
  2. Improved treatment tolerance
  3. Decrease in pain
  4. Decrease in depression
  5. Better sleep
  6. Improved self-esteem/self-confidence
  7. Prevent weight gain and obesity
  8. Prevent.manage lymphedema
  9. Prevent cancer cachexia
  10. Maintain independence
  11. Improved balance and strength
  12. Makes treatment more effective at destroying cancer cells

The benefits of exercise during recovery include:

  1. Increased range of motion
  2. Correct muscle imbalances that lead to pain and degeneration
  3. Increased energy
  4. Increased stamina
  5. Increases in strength and cardiovascular endurance
  6. Prevent osteoporosis, diabetes, lymphedema, future cancer, and damage to the heart and lungs
  7. Decrease body fat and increase lean muscle mass
  8. Improve balance and fall prevention
  9. Improved self-esteem/self-confidence

Based on the tremendous amount of evidence to support the aforementioned lists, it is mind-boggling that so few cancer patients are told to exercise. For those who are given the green light to exercise, the big problem is not knowing where to start, how to safely progress, and how to prevent many of the complications associated with cancer treatment.

By training more allied health professionals worldwide, CETI is creating a global resource for medical professionals to be able to confidently refer their patients.

“Cancer strips you of everything. Your hair, your body parts, your dignity, your self-confidence, your strength and stamina, your finances, sometimes even your job or spouse. A Cancer Exercise Specialist can help the cancer patient regain control of their life and their body at a time that the patient feels they have no control.” – Andrea Leonard

If you are interested in learning more about becoming a Cancer Exercise Specialist in Canada, or would like to learn about bringing CETI’s training to your country, please contact



  1. Canadian Cancer Society,, updated 10-23-2017
  2. Canadian Partnership Against Cancer,, Annual Report 2017