The death toll cancer takes in Canada is on the decline, fuelled in large part by the fact that lung cancer is killing fewer Canadian men than it did in earlier decades, the Canadian Cancer Society said Wednesday.
In its annual report on cancer in Canada, the agency estimated that close to 100,000 lives have been saved in this country over the past 20 years because of the declining cancer death rate.
In part that is due to improved cancer survival rates. There have been advances in treatments for several types of cancer, meaning more Canadians are surviving prostate, breast and colorectal cancer as well as for non-Hodgkin lymphoma, said Gillian Bromfield, the cancer societyâ€™s director of cancer control policy.
But the biggest factor in the lowering of the death rate is not cancer survival, itâ€™s cancer prevention. Fewer men have developed lung cancer in recent years because more men either stopped smoking or never picked up the habit. That trend started decades ago and the benefits are being seen now.
â€œThat has been one of the main drivers in that overall drop in death rates,â€ Bromfield said in an interview. â€œItâ€™s just sort of clear that the overall death rate has really followed the trend in menâ€™s lung cancer death rate.â€