All those daffodils you've been seeing lately aren't just a sign that spring is here: they also symbolize the Canadian Cancer Society's efforts on raising awareness and money to fight cancer.

Cancer isn't one disease but is actually hundreds of different ones. With that in mind, we've assembled a list of 10 facts about cancer in Canada that may surprise you — some pleasantly, others not as much. We hope you read something here that helps you protect your health, or that of someone else you know.

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  • The Deadly Truth

    Cancer causes about 30 per cent of all deaths in Canada: On average, 200 Canadians die of cancer each day, adding up to more than 75,000 deaths per year.

  • More Men Are Diagnosed

    Cancer diagnoses are slightly more common for men than women. On average this number is about <a href="http://www.cancer.ca/en/cancer-information/cancer-101/cancer-statistics-at-a-glance/?region=on" target="_blank">96,200 cases per year for men vs. 91,400 for women,</a> according to the Canadian Cancer Society.

  • 4 Types Of Cancers Make Up More Than Half The Cases

    Excluding non-melanoma skin cancers, 52 per cent of new cancers are one of four types: <a href="http://www.lung.ca/lung101-renseignez/statistics-statistiques/lungdiseases-maladiespoumon/index_e.php#lungcancer" target="_blank">lung, breast, colorectal, or prostate. Lung cancer was the leading cause of cancer deaths for both men and women in 2013</a>, according to the Canadian Lung Association. In the U.S., lung cancer kills more people each year than breast, colorectal, and pancreatic cancers combined.

  • Non-Smokers Do Get Lung Cancer

    We tend to associate lung cancer with either smokers, or people who have been exposed to second-hand smoke, but those aren't the only people who get the often-deadly disease. According to the American Lung Association, smoking is believed to contribute to <a href="http://www.lung.ca/lung101-renseignez/statistics-statistiques/lungdiseases-maladiespoumon/index_e.php#lungcancer" target="_blank">80 per cent of small-cell lung cancer deaths for women and 90 per cent for men, each year.</a> Exposure to asbestos, pollution, and family history are all risk factors for lung cancer that aren't related to smoking.

  • Marijuana Could Be A Cancer Risk

    The research on smoking marijuana and the risk of cancers like lung cancer is inconsistent, but there are some indications that it can increase your cancer risk. Last year, a Canadian study reported that <a href="http://news.nationalpost.com/2013/08/01/heavy-marijuana-smoking-may-double-risk-of-lung-cancer-canadian-study-finds/" target="_blank">heavy marijuana use could double lung cancer risk</a>. A 2006 study found that pot smoking increased tar exposure and caused changes in the lining of small tubes within the lungs. Marijuana does contains some of the same carcinogens as tobacco, though is often used in small quantities than tobacco is for smokers. Of course, mixing marijuana with tobacco includes the risks of tobacco as well.

  • Most People Survive A Cancer Diagnosis

    Cancer can be deadly, of course, but most often it is not. According to 2003 to 2008 estimates, 63 per cent of Canadians diagnosed with cancer are expected to live for five or more years post-diagnosis.

  • More People Are Surviving

    We’re diagnosing cancer more often in Canada, but more people are surviving that diagnosis. According to the Canadian Cancer Society, survival rates for all cancers combined went from 56 per cent to 62 per cent from 1992 to 1994 and 2006 to 2008.

  • There Is Such A Thing As Too Much Screening

    It seems like more information would be a good thing, but there is growing concern about the harms of excessive screening tests. A piece in The Lancet in 2011 reported that <a href="http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(11)60627-2/fulltext" target="_blank">many tests, like CT scans, are not recommended for general screenings</a>. Others, like virtual colonoscopies, sound advanced but aren't recommended over older tests like standard colonoscopies either. Screening tests can find cancer that should be treated but they can also find normal growths that could be left alone, and there are risks involved with their biopsy and removal — for example, former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney was in the hospital for nearly three months due to complications from a lung biopsy that found no cancer. Talk to your physician about which tests are most appropriate for your personal risk profile, based on current screening guidelines.

  • Men Can Get Breast Cancer

    While breast cancer is largely found in women, it does occur in men. According to the Breast Cancer Society of Canada, <a href="http://www.bcsc.ca/p/322/l/355/t/Male-Breast-Cancer" target="_blank">less than one per cent of breast cancer cases in this country each year are found in biological men</a> — which accumulates to 200 cases and 60 deaths per year.

  • There Is No Good Screening Test For The Deadliest Women's Cancer

    Ovarian cancer is the fifth most common cancer for women, and the most fatal, according to Ovarian Cancer Canada. Five-year <a href="http://www.ovariancanada.org/OCC/media/Content/PDFs/Brochures/GeneralDiseaseInfoBro_WEB-EN.pdf" target="_blank">survival rates are less than 30 per cent</a> and it can be difficult to diagnose because its main symptoms (including frequent urination, digestion changes, constipation and bloating) are associated with a variety of possible conditions. On top of this, there is no effective screening tests for ovarian cancer, like Pap smears for cervical cancer, which means it’s often not diagnosed until treatment options are limited. Talk to your doctor if you are experiencing any of these symptoms on a regular basis.

  • NEXT: <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/12/20/science-discoveries-2013_n_4474526.html" target="_blank">What Canadians Uncovered In Health In 2013</a>

  • Sharp-Shooting Cancer Drugs

    It was massive news in June when researchers at Toronto's Princess Margaret Hospital announced that they, in conjunction with researchers at UCLA, had developed a drug over the past decade that <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/06/18/cancer-drugs_n_3460636.html" target="_hplink">specifically targeted cancer cells in chemotherapy</a>. This ran in contrast to previous forms of treatment, which targeted all fast-dividing cells, cancerous or otherwise. The drug is awaiting approval, but showed a lot of promise in mice trials, potentially paving the way for new breast and ovarian cancer treatments soon.

  • Moms Make The Pain Go Away

    Infants in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) can go through as many as 500 to 1000 procedures, and the pain experienced can not only potentially create stress later in life, but also change the way their brains form. Researchers at Dalhousie University determined that <a href="http://media.dal.ca/?q=node/289" target="_hplink">having a mother hold her baby during a procedure</a> can reduce the pain by up to 30 per cent, making a massive impact. Considering parents are often kept away from the NICU and these procedures, this could change how at-risk babies are treated — and how they develop.

  • An Atlas For The Brain

    The Montreal and German researchers who worked on the 3D digital brain atlas <a href="https://www.mcgill.ca/channels/news/revolutionary-new-3d-digital-brain-atlas-228939" target="_hplink">compare it to a "Google maps" for the brain</a>, allowing researchers around the world to download incredibly high resolution portions of the organ in order to further their studies. The data set is 125,000 times bigger than a typical MRI.

  • Health Isn't Always About Weight

    For obese patients with conditions like high glucose and blood pressure, staring down the long road to health can be intimidating and scary. Researchers at York University made it a bit less daunting with their discovery that this population <a href="http://news.yorku.ca/2013/01/22/obese-patients-can-improve-their-health-even-without-weight-loss-york-u-study/" target="_hplink">can improve their health even without weight loss</a> by following a diet program that worked with their lifestyle. Too often "healthy" is equated with losing pounds, and this gives hope for health to those who constantly go up and down.

  • Poop Pill

    Using other people's feces to cure someone's gut problems may sound counterintuitive, and yes, gross, but that doesn't mean it doesn't work. Dr. Thomas Louie at the University of Calgary made massive news this year with his "poop pills," a more (ahem) <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/10/03/poop-pills_n_4037333.html" target="_hplink">digestible version of fecal transplants that help cure C. Difficile</a>, thanks to a balancing of gut bacteria. There's hope these pills can help a variety of digestive conditions in the future.

  • One Part Of Our Brain Is Keeping iTunes In Business

    McGill researchers watched people listen to new music they'd never heard before, and uncovered the surprising finding that <a href="https://www.mcgill.ca/channels/news/why-we-buy-music-225868" target="_hplink">the more activity in the nucleus accumbens</a>, which deals with expectations and rewards, combined with activity in the auditory cortex, which stores information about what we've heard, the more likely they are to buy that music. Basically, people have expectations of what music should sound like, and vote with their dollars if they are or aren't met.

  • Physical Help For Anorexia

    Why is it such a big deal that University of Toronto has potentially found a treatment for anorexia? “Eating disorders have the highest death rate of any mental illness,” says Professor Blake Woodside, a teacher in U of T’s Department of Psychiatry and medical director of Canada’s largest eating disorders program at Toronto General Hospital. The university <a href="http://medicine.utoronto.ca/news/deep-brain-stimulation-shows-promise-anorexia-nervosa-patients" target="_hplink">used electrodes on the parts of patients' brains that dealt with emotion and depression</a> and watched for changes. In the six months afterwards, half the patients gained more weight than they ever had in the past.

  • Hunting Down Alzheimer's

    Researchers at York University, working with colleagues at Cornell University, published a study showing how <a href="http://health.blog.yorku.ca/2013/10/04/researchers-find-brains-default-network-shrinks-in-healthy-aging-and-dementia-2/" target="_hplink">structural changes in the brain throughout one's life</a> could be related to the development of Alzheimer's disease, creating the possibility of an earlier diagnosis. From this, they hope to develop ways to stimulate cognitive functioning in those parts and prevent the onset of the disease.

  • Where Obesity Comes From

    Discrimination against fat people could be the last remaining prejudice, but McGill and University of Toronto researchers may have found an answer to stop that. Though many people assume obesity comes from poor food choices, a study determined it actually stems from three things: <a href="https://www.mcgill.ca/newsroom/channels/news/brain-reward-gene-influences-food-choices-231795" target="_hplink">genetic predispositions, environmental stress and emotional well-being</a>. Specifically, a lack of the gene that regulates dopamine can affect children's food choices, prompting them to opt for unhealthier comfort foods, and knowing this, doctors and parents can work to prevent it.

  • Where REM Sleep Happens

    Sleep is still a mystery, for the most part, though scientists are fairly certain REM sleep (the deep kind, when dreaming happens) is imperative for our mental well-being. So the discovery by researchers at McGill University of <a href="http://www.douglas.qc.ca/news/1222?locale=en" target="_hplink">neurons that are directly related to REM sleep</a> could mean big things for understanding more about what happens when our eyes are shut and why sleep matters so much.

  • Music Eases The Pain

    Many of us have used music as a distraction technique to block out annoying co-workers or fellow commuters, but University of Alberta researchers have found an even better purpose for it: to block out pain. Studies with children found that <a href="http://www.med.ualberta.ca/news/2013/july/music-decreases-pain-in-kids" target="_hplink">those who listened to music while getting an IV</a> reported less pain immediately after the procedure. So turn up the sound for those blood tests!

  • Turn Water Into Gold!

    Nathan Magarvey, assistant professor, biochemistry and biomedical sciences at McMaster, discovered a species of bacteria (Delftia acidovorans) that can <a href="http://fhs.mcmaster.ca/main/news/news_2013/gold_resistant_bacterium.html" target="_hplink">turn water-soluble gold into the precious metal's solid form</a>. The amounts are tiny, but researchers think this could be used to find bodies of water where gold can be found.

  • A Better IQ Test

    There have long been problems associated with <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/iq-tests-are-fundamentally-flawed-and-using-them-alone-to-measure-intelligence-is-a-fallacy-study-finds-8425911.html" target="_hplink">the narrowness of traditional IQ tests</a>, but York University may have uncovered a better way to determine intelligence. By <a href="http://health.blog.yorku.ca/2013/11/13/rational-thinking-improves-in-children-adolescents-with-age" target="_hplink">testing rational thinking at a young age</a>, the school demonstrated a correlation between rational thinking in children and executive functions and intelligence. This could go a long way to broadening how we define the term.

  • Concussions Can Last Decades

    This is scary news, especially considering <a href="http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/hamilton/news/new-concussion-guidelines-developed-just-for-children-1.1373586" target="_hplink">how common concussions are among Canadians</a>, but a Quebec neuropsychologist found the <a href="http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/256518.php" target="_hplink">brain waves of a concussed head can be abnormal for years</a>, as well as having deteriorated motor pathways, leading to attention problems. It's no surprise <a href="http://www.cbc.ca/sports/hockey/nhl/nhl-concussion-lawsuit-grows-to-over-200-players-lawyers-1.2443059" target="_hplink">so many athletes are suing their leagues</a>.

  • Unborn Babies Love Exercise

    It takes as little as 20 minutes a day, three times a week, and <a href="http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/mom-s-exercise-during-pregnancy-gives-baby-s-brain-a-boost-1.2422831" target="_hplink">your baby can reap the benefits of exercising</a> — that was the message delivered to soon-to-be moms by University of Montreal researchers this year. Apparently even that minimum amount of activity helped kids showcase more mature brain activity right off the bat than those of mothers who did not exercise. That walk sure seems worth it now.

  • Screens Are Worse Than Sitting

    Forget getting worried about your kid sitting around all day — get worried that your kid is sitting around in front of a computer all day. An inter-university team of researchers from University of Ottawa, University of Montreal, Concordia University, Laval University Laval and McGill University found that <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/04/23/screen-time-kids-_n_3141219.html" target="_hplink">when kids sat in front of screens, they consumed more calories</a> and had lower levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol — known as "good" cholesterol. It won't be the first time you've heard it: reading trumps video games.

  • Robot Surgeons

    In 2013, the Jewish General Hospital became <a href="http://www.jgh.ca/en/publication/?id=355" target="_hplink">the first hospital in Canada to perform robot-assisted cardiac surgery</a>, using the da Vinci surgical robot to repair a mitral valve. The surgery only needed pencil-sized holes between the ribs, making the robot the perfect candidate to enact this.

  • Alternatives To Salt

    With the discovery this year that <a href="http://www.news.utoronto.ca/salty-surprise-fast-food-beats-table-service" target="_hplink">Canadian fast food was incredibly high in salt</a> by University of Toronto researchers, the University of Saskatchewan is <a href="http://words.usask.ca/news/2013/04/29/hold-the-salt-u-of-s-researchers-work-with-food-industry-to-reduce-sodium-in-bread-and-processed-meats/" target="_hplink">looking into alternatives</a>, particularly for processed meats, in order to maintain their safety and taste.

The Deadly Truth
Cancer causes about 30 per cent of all deaths in Canada: On average, 200 Canadians die of cancer each day, adding up to more than 75,000 deaths per year.

More Men Are Diagnosed
Cancer diagnoses are slightly more common for men than women. On average this number is about 96,200 cases per year for men vs. 91,400 for women, according to the Canadian Cancer Society.

4 Types Of Cancers Make Up More Than Half The Cases
Excluding non-melanoma skin cancers, 52 per cent of new cancers are one of four types: lung, breast, colorectal, or prostate. Lung cancer was the leading cause of cancer deaths for both men and women in 2013, according to the Canadian Lung Association. In the U.S., lung cancer kills more people each year than breast, colorectal, and pancreatic cancers combined.

Non-Smokers Do Get Lung Cancer
We tend to associate lung cancer with either smokers, or people who have been exposed to second-hand smoke, but those aren't the only people who get the often-deadly disease. According to the American Lung Association, smoking is believed to contribute to 80 per cent of small-cell lung cancer deaths for women and 90 per cent for men, each year. Exposure to asbestos, pollution, and family history are all risk factors for lung cancer that aren't related to smoking.

Marijuana Could Be A Cancer Risk
The research on smoking marijuana and the risk of cancers like lung cancer is inconsistent, but there are some indications that it can increase your cancer risk. Last year, a Canadian study reported that heavy marijuana use could double lung cancer risk. A 2006 study found that pot smoking increased tar exposure and caused changes in the lining of small tubes within the lungs. Marijuana does contains some of the same carcinogens as tobacco, though is often used in small quantities than tobacco is for smokers. Of course, mixing marijuana with tobacco includes the risks of tobacco as well.

Most People Survive A Cancer Diagnosis
Cancer can be deadly, of course, but most often it is not. According to 2003 to 2008 estimates, 63 per cent of Canadians diagnosed with cancer are expected to live for five or more years post-diagnosis.

More People Are Surviving
We’re diagnosing cancer more often in Canada, but more people are surviving that diagnosis. According to the Canadian Cancer Society, survival rates for all cancers combined went from 56 per cent to 62 per cent from 1992 to 1994 and 2006 to 2008.

There Is Such A Thing As Too Much Screening
It seems like more information would be a good thing, but there is growing concern about the harms of excessive screening tests. A piece in The Lancet in 2011 reported that many tests, like CT scans, are not recommended for general screenings. Others, like virtual colonoscopies, sound advanced but aren't recommended over older tests like standard colonoscopies either. Screening tests can find cancer that should be treated but they can also find normal growths that could be left alone, and there are risks involved with their biopsy and removal — for example, former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney was in the hospital for nearly three months due to complications from a lung biopsy that found no cancer. Talk to your physician about which tests are most appropriate for your personal risk profile, based on current screening guidelines.

Men Can Get Breast Cancer
While breast cancer is largely found in women, it does occur in men. According to the Breast Cancer Society of Canada, less than one per cent of breast cancer cases in this country each year are found in biological men — which accumulates to 200 cases and 60 deaths per year.

There Is No Good Screening Test For The Deadliest Women's Cancer
Ovarian cancer is the fifth most common cancer for women, and the most fatal, according to Ovarian Cancer Canada. Five-year survival rates are less than 30 per cent and it can be difficult to diagnose because its main symptoms (including frequent urination, digestion changes, constipation and bloating) are associated with a variety of possible conditions. On top of this, there is no effective screening tests for ovarian cancer, like Pap smears for cervical cancer, which means it’s often not diagnosed until treatment options are limited. Talk to your doctor if you are experiencing any of these symptoms on a regular basis.


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