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COLORECTAL CANCER

Colorectal cancer is a cancer that starts in the colon or the rectum. Colon and rectal cancers arise from the same cell type and have many similarities. It is for this reason that they are often referred to collectively as “colorectal cancer”. The cells lining the colon or rectum can sometimes become abnormal and divide rapidly. These cells can form benign (non-cancerous) tumours or growths called polyps. Although not all polyps will develop into colorectal cancer, this type of cancer almost always develops from a polyp. Over a period of many years, a polyp’s cells may undergo a series of DNA changes that cause them to become malignant (cancerous). At first, these cancer cells are contained on the surface of a polyp, but can grow into the wall of the colon or rectum where they can gain access to blood and lymph vessels. Once this happens, the cancer can spread to lymph nodes and other organs, such as the liver or lungs — this process is called metastasis, and tumours found in distant organs are called metastases.

Polyps larger than one centimetre with extensive villous patterns have an increased risk of developing into cancer. The vast majority of colorectal cancers are adenocarcinomas, tumours that arise from the mucosa cells of the colon.

In 2020, an estimated 26,900 Canadians will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer and about 9,700 will die from the disease — this represents 12% of all new annual cancer cases and 12% of all cancer deaths. Each day, an estimated 73 Canadians will be diagnosed, and 27 Canadians will die from colorectal cancer.

2020 Provincial Colorectal Cancer Statistics

Estimated New Cases Estimated Deaths
Men Women Total Men Women Total
British Columbia 2,100 1,650 3,750 730 660 1,390
Alberta 1,450 1,100 2,550 460 330 790
Saskatchewan 540 370 910 170 140 310
Manitoba 520 350 870 200 160 360
Ontario 5,000 4,300 9,300 1,700 1,500 3,200
Quebec 3,900 3,100 7,000 1,500 1,200 2,700
New Brunswick 380 280 660 130 100 230
Nova Scotia 550 440 990 220 160 380
Prince Edward Island 80 65 145 25 25 50
Newfoundland & Labrador 390 280 670 150 120 270
CANADA (approx.) 14,900 12,000 26,900 5,300 4,400 9,700

British Columbia

  • Men2,000
  • Women1,600
  • Total3,600

Alberta

  • Men1,400
  • Women1,100
  • Total2,500

Saskatchewan

  • Men520
  • Women370
  • Total890

Manitoba

  • Men510
  • Women350
  • Total860

Ontario

  • Men4,900
  • Women4,200
  • Total9,100

Quebec

  • Men3,800
  • Women3,000
  • Total6,800

New Brunswick

  • Men370
  • Women280
  • Total650

Nova Scotia

  • Men530
  • Women430
  • Total960

Prince Edward Island

  • Men80
  • Women65
  • Total145

Newfoundland & Labrador

  • Men380
  • Women270
  • Total650

CANADA (approx.)

  • 14,600
  • 11,700
  • 26,300

British Columbia

  • Men720
  • Women600
  • Total1,370

Alberta

  • Men450
  • Women330
  • Total780

Saskatchewan

  • Men170
  • Women140
  • Total310

Manitoba

  • Men200
  • Women160
  • Total360

Ontario

  • Men1,650
  • Women1,500
  • Total3,150

Quebec

  • Men1,450
  • Women1,200
  • Total2,650

New Brunswick

  • Men130
  • Women100
  • Total230

Nova Scotia

  • Men220
  • Women160
  • Total380

Prince Edward Island

  • Men25
  • Women20
  • Total45

Newfoundland & Labrador

  • Men150
  • Women120
  • Total270

CANADA (approx.)

  • 5,200
  • 4,400
  • 9,500

Canadian Cancer Statistics Advisory Committee, 2019

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