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New Breast Cancer Statistics in Canada

By Rethink Breast Cancer October 17 2019

Each year, the Canadian Cancer Society releases predictive cancer statistics. Just last month, their 2019 report was released. This report highlights most cancers in Canada, including updated estimates of incidence, survival, and mortality.

We encourage you to read the entire publication for yourself. But, in the meantime, here’s a quick run-through of their most recent findings as relates to breast cancer in Canada in 2019.


Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Canadian women.

This fact still rings true in 2019. According to the Canadian Cancer Society’s 2019 predictive stats, 1 in 8 females is expected to be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. On top of that, breast cancer is still expected to make up more new cases of cancer in Canadian women in 2019 than other cancers. Here’s a snapshot:

  1. Breast Cancer (25% of new cases)
  2. Lung Cancer (14%)
  3. Colorectal Cancer (11%)
  4. Uterine Cancer (7%)
  5. Thyroid Cancer (6%)

Breast Cancer is the Second Most Commonly Diagnosed Cancer in Canada. Period.

So, you probably already knew that breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Canadian women. However, you probably didn’t know that, in 2019, breast cancer is expected to surpass colorectal cancer, making it the second most commonly diagnosed cancer in Canada — period. 

Below is a list of the most common cancers in Canada by the number of cases expected in 2019. Together, these cancers make up half (48%) of all cancers diagnosed in 2019. 

  1. Lung Cancer (29,300 cases)
  2. Breast Cancer (27,200 cases)
  3. Colorectal Cancer (26,300 cases)
  4. Prostate Cancer (22,900 cases)


The age-standardized incidence rate has not changed in the past 5 years.

In the 1990s, the breast cancer incident rate rose. However, this was largely due to advancements in mammography screening and provincial screening programs that helped diagnose more breast cancers. However, today, there has been virtually no change in the projected age-standardized incidence rate (ASIR) over the past 5 years, moving from 126.1 cases per 100,000 women in 2015 to 128 cases per 100,000 women in 2019.


The rates of breast cancer in young women are low.

In females, the lifetime probability of developing cancer is 12.1%. According to the Canadian Cancer Society, it’s expected that there will be about 26,900 new cases of breast cancer in 2019 in Canadian females. Of these new cases:


  • 0.5% are expected to be in women under the age of 30
  • 16.3% are expected to be in women between the ages of 30 and 49.
  • 49.7% are expected to be in women between the ages of 50 and 69
  • 33.4% are expected to be in women age 70+



Canada’s breast cancer mortality rate is STILL the lowest it has been since 1950.

Breast cancer is the second most common cause of cancer-related deaths in females in Canada. In 2019, it’s estimated that breast cancer will account for 13% of all cancer deaths — second only to lung cancer (26%). 

However, the overall age-standardized mortality rate for breast cancer in Canada is the lowest it has been since 1950. After its peak in 1986 (42.7 per 100,000), the mortality rate has continued to fall year over year — dropping to an estimated 22.4 per 100,000 in 2019. This is likely due to improved overall cancer control, including increased mammography screening and the use of more effective therapies following breast cancer surgery.


Breast cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer deaths for those under 50.

The burden of a breast cancer diagnosis remains heavy on women under the age of 50. While these women make up a smaller portion of overall breast cancer incidences in Canada, their rates of death are higher. According to the Canadian Cancer Society, 16% of all cancer deaths (male and female) in the 30-49 age range are from breast cancer, compared to 8% in those ages 50-69, 5% in those ages 70-85 and 7% in those ages 85+. 

There are many possible reasons for this, like delayed diagnosis and the fact that breast cancers in young women are known to be more aggressive. While there has been an increased focus on screening for young women who are known to be high risk, most women under 50 are not actively targeted for breast cancer screening, clinical trials, or research across the country.



We haven’t seen much improvement for breast cancer survival in Canada.

It’s good to know that we aren’t seeing higher rates of breast cancer in women, but you always want to see improvements too.

We’ve seen a slight change in breast cancer survival in Canada. While, the 5-year survival rate has remained steadily around 87% since 2011, the most recent stats from the Canadian Cancer Society, show it’s now at 88%. With that said, the 5-year survival rate for young women with breast cancer is among the lowest in all the age groups:

  • 88% in women ages 15-44
  • 91% in women ages 45-54
  • 90% in women ages 55-64
  • 91% in women ages 65-74
  • 84% in women ages 75-85
  • 75% in women ages 85-99


What this means for the future of young women in Canada.

It means we STILL need to address treatment and care issues for young women in Canada. Including:

· Delays in diagnosis
· More advanced cancers at diagnosis
· Higher mortality rates
· Low participation in clinical trials
· Lack of age-appropriate care
· Concerns around social support during cancer treatment
· Late effects of treatment
· Recurrence
· Longer-term, psychosocial concerns/factors


Rethink Breast Cancer will continue to be at the forefront in addressing these concerns through helping young people asses their risk, crafting advocacy campaigns around Metastatic Breast Cancer (MBC) and access to treatment, savvy education and awareness so that women are able to take their health in their own hands, and providing targeted resources to meet the psychosocial needs of young women with breast cancer globally through programs, like LiveLaughLearn.