Cancer is the leading cause of death in Canada. In fact, two in five Canadians will develop cancer in their lifetime and one in four Canadians will die of the disease. Lung, breast, colorectal and prostate cancer are the most commonly diagnosed types of cancer in the country. Although the overall risk of dying from cancer is declining in Canada, the number of new cancer diagnoses and cancer deaths continues to rise. Almost everyone knows someone whose life has been impacted by a cancer diagnosis.
Cancer is a complex disease, and though some factors are unavoidable, there are several ways we can reduce our risk of developing cancer. Making healthier choices like living smoke-free, eating well, reducing alcohol consumption and being active can help reduce the risk for some types of cancer and other chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. A healthy lifestyle plays an important role in our overall health, well-being and quality of life.
The Government of Canada recognizes that much work remains to be done in the fight against cancer. This is why we continue to fund the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer at close to $50 million annually. The Partnership is having an impact on the lives of Canadians through its work on cancer prevention, early detection, treatment and support for those living with cancer. Additionally, through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, we have invested more than $1 billion over the last five years to fund cancer research.
There is no health without mental health, and positive mental health is critical in helping us cope with life’s stressful events and challenges and feeling in control of or lives. This is especially true for cancer diagnoses, which can be devastating, not just for the individual but also for their families, friends and communities.
If you or a loved one needs mental health or substance use support, please talk to your family doctor and reach out to family and friends for support. You can also access the Wellness Together Canada portal by calling 1-866-585-0445, or texting WELLNESS to 741741 (adults) or 686868 (youth). The WTC portal provides free access to educational content, self-guided therapy, moderated peer-to-peer support and one-to-one counselling with qualified health professionals, and its companion application PocketWell offers the same resources in a smaller format, along with a daily mood tracker.
This World Cancer Day, we encourage you to try to live a healthier and more active lifestyle to reduce your risk of cancer. This can include talking with a health care provider on a regular basis and getting timely screening for all types of cancer. Remember, early detection is important and can save lives: the sooner you find the cancer, the sooner you can get it treated.
The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Health
The Honourable Carolyn Bennett, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health