2008 - 2012 Halton Region Cancer Incidence and Mortality Report

Background

Cancer represents a significant burden of illness and the most common cause of death in both Halton and Ontario. This report identifies the top cancers by incidence rate (new cancers being diagnosed) and mortality rate (cancers causing death) in Halton, with comparisons to Ontario. It also assesses trends in specific cancer rates between 1986 and 2012, focusing on the cancers responsible for the greatest incidence and mortality in males and females, and highlighting any significant increases or decreases in incidence and/or mortality associated with these cancers over time. The latest year for which data are currently available from the Ontario Cancer Registry is 2012.

Key Findings

Incidence and mortality in Halton:

From 2008 to 2012, there were an average of 2,477 newly diagnosed cancers and 903 cancer deaths every year in Halton. In 2008-2012 combined, the most commonly occurring cancers in Halton (as in Ontario) were:

  • Lung cancer (both sexes)
  • Colorectal cancer (both sexes)
  • Breast cancer (for women)
  • Prostate cancer (for men)

These cancers accounted for roughly half of all newly diagnosed cancer cases (incidence) and nearly half of all cancer-related deaths (mortality) in Halton.

Incidence and mortality in Halton, compared to Ontario:

Halton’s incidence and mortality rates for 2008-2012 were similar to Ontario’s for most cancers, except for the following where statistically significant differences were observed:

  Incidence rate (2008-2012) Mortality rate (2008-2012)
Halton rate higher than Ontario rate
  • All cancers combined, females only
  • Breast cancer, females only
  • Thyroid cancer, both sexes combined
  • Melanoma, both sexes combined
  • Prostate cancer, males only
Halton rate lower than Ontario rate
  • Lung cancer, both sexes combined
  • All cancers combined, both sexes
  • All cancers combined, males only
  • Colorectal cancer, both sexes combined
  • Lung cancer, both sexes combined

Incidence for all cancers combined increased in Halton and Ontario between 1986 and 2012, while mortality for all cancers combined decreased over the same time period. Some of the increased incidence may reflect greater cancer detection due to changes in screening practices and improved screening technology, while the decline in mortality is likely due to increased early detection and better treatment. Screening rates for colorectal cancer, breast cancer, and cervical cancer were significantly higher in Halton compared to Ontario.

Cancer and the social determinants of health:

Socioeconomic status is a social determinant of health that reflects an individual’s income, education, and employment. Socioeconomic status is often related to cancer incidence and mortality, as well as to individuals’ exposure to cancer risk factors. Risk factors like a diet low in fruits and vegetables or physical inactivity may decrease with increasing income, while risk factors like sun exposure and alcohol consumption may increase with increasing income. Participation in cancer screening is lower in lower income neighbourhoods in Halton. Opportunities exist for Halton residents to reduce their cancer risk, such as through behavioural changes, modifications to the built environment, and by addressing underlying health inequities.