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Study: Trends in the incidence and mortality of female reproductive system cancers, 2010

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Released: 2015-02-17

Cancers of the reproductive system accounted for 12.0% of all new cases of cancer among Canadian women in 2010. Reproductive system cancers also accounted for 9.2% of all female cancer deaths during that year. The large majority, about 90%, of reproductive system cancers occurred in the uterus, ovaries or cervix.

Uterine cancer incidence at its highest level since 1992

The most commonly diagnosed reproductive cancer in 2010 was uterine cancer, with an incidence rate of 30.3 new cases per 100,000 women. That marks its highest rate since 1992. The majority of the increase in the rate of uterine cancer occurred between 2005 and 2010, when age-standardized incidence increased by 2.5% annually. Age-standardized mortality from uterine cancer decreased between 1974 and 2000. However, it increased by 0.9% annually between 2000 and 2010.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Incidence rate, by type of cancer and year, age-standardized, Canada, 1992 to 2010 - Description and data table
Incidence rate, by type of cancer and year, age-standardized, Canada, 1992 to 2010

Chart 1: Incidence rate, by type of cancer and year, age-standardized, Canada, 1992 to 2010 - Description and data table

Ovarian cancer mortality the highest among reproductive system cancers, but mortality decreasing over time

The incidence rate of ovarian cancer was 14.4 new cases per 100,000 women in 2010. The age-standardized rate fell by 0.8% annually between 1992 and 2010. Incidence increased with age, with the oldest women having the highest risk. Ovarian cancer had the highest mortality rate (9.5 deaths per 100,000 women in 2010) of the three main reproductive system cancers. However, the mortality from ovarian cancer has been steadily decreasing since 1974.

Cervical cancer a greater risk for younger women

Cervical cancer had an incidence rate of 8.1 new cases per 100,000 in 2010. The age-standardized incidence rate declined by 2.1% annually between 1992 and 2005, but that downward trend slowed between 2005 and 2010 as rates saw little change. Cervical cancer was more likely to affect younger women compared with the other two reproductive cancers. Women aged 40 to 44 had the highest incidence rate (16.6 new cases per 100,000 women), and 28.7% of all 2010 cases were in women under 40 years of age.

Since 1978, cervical cancer has had the lowest mortality rate of these three reproductive cancers, and the age-standardized rate declined by 3.2% per year between 1974 and 2010. The greatest declines in mortality from cervical cancer were made in older women and, as a result, the median age of death from cervical cancer fell by one and a half years during that same time period.

  Note to readers

Incidence refers to the number of newly diagnosed cases of cancer.

Since cancer is more likely to occur in older people, the age structure of a population will have a strong influence on the incidence and mortality rates observed. To allow for more valid comparisons over time, age-standardized rates are used to control for differences in population age structure. The age-standardized rate is the rate that would occur if the population of interest had the same age structure as the standard population. The standard population used here is the July 1, 1991, Canadian population.

Median refers to the midpoint of a distribution of numbers sorted by size (that is, from smallest to largest or vice versa).

This release presents data from the Canadian Cancer Registry (CCR), a population-based database maintained by Statistics Canada. The CCR contains information on cases diagnosed from 1992 onward, compiled from reports from every provincial and territorial cancer registry.

It also presents data from the Canadian Vital Statistics – Death Database, which collects demographic and cause of death information annually from every provincial and territorial vital statistics registries on all deaths in Canada.

The article "Trends in the incidence and mortality of female reproductive system cancers," as part of Health at a Glance (Catalogue number82-624-X), is now available from the Browse by key resource module of our website under Publications.

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