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About our Cancer Statistics

Cancer Surveillance & Outcomes periodically reports on many aspects of cancer cases in the province.
What we report on

Statistics we report

The statistics we summarize below are primarily provided within our new Cancer Statistics Online Dashboard, but you will find some additional reports provided under the Other Reports section of the website.

Number of Prevalent Cases: Number of prevalent cancer cases by type of cancer, sex and region.

Number of New Diagnoses: refers to the number of new cases of cancer diagnosed in BC each year by cancer type, age, sex, and stage. We provide actual and projected counts by year at the BC and regional level.

Cancer Incidence Rates and Trends: Crude and age-standardized cancer incidence rate trends by type of cancer, age, sex, stage, and region. These represent actual (not projected) rates by year.

Cancer Deaths and Mortality Rates: Number of deaths, mortality rates, age-standardized mortality rates, and trends by type of cancer, age, sex and region. 

Standardized Incidence Ratio (SIR) and Standardized Mortality Ratio (SMR): SIRs and SMRs are provided to support the comparison of cancer rates between regions.

Outcomes: Lifetime risk of being diagnosed with cancer by year, type of cancer and sex. We also report on expected and potential years of life lost.

Survival Rates: Estimates for observed survival and age-standardized relative survival by type of cancer, age, sex and stage, as well as trends by type of cancer.  

Differences in published statistics 

Those accessing cancer statistics from different sources should be aware that there are some differences between statistics published by different organizations. Please see our brief summary document: Reasons for differences in cancer statistics published in Canada  

Why we report these statistics

Our aim is to provide health professionals, policy makers and the public with an overview of regional cancer control information and outcomes across BC. 

Statistics can be used to prompt new research investigations and help with resource and business planning. 

Our data sources

Our main data sources are:

  • the BC Cancer Registry
  • the BC Cancer Information System (CAIS)
  • BC Vital Statistics Agency
  • BC Stats
  • Statistics Canada

This page covers the terms we use in cancer statistics reports. See the end of the page for definitions of cancer site and type, and links to BC government administrative boundary information.



The age of the patient (in completed years) at the time of diagnosis or death.

Age-Specific Rate

The number of new cases of cancer or cancer deaths during the year, expressed as a rate per 100,000 persons in a given age group.

Age-Standardized Rate

The number of new cases of cancer or cancer deaths per 100,000 that would have occurred in the standard population (2011 Canadian population) if the actual age-specific rates observed in a given population had prevailed in the standard population.

Community Oncology Network

Network of cancer clinics, affiliated with BC Cancer, that provide cancer care in the community.

Disease Specific Survival Rate

Survival rate in which only deaths from the disease are counted.


International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision.


The number of new cases of a given type of cancer diagnosed.

The basic unit of reporting is a new case of cancer rather than an individual patient.

Incidence Rate

The number of new cases of a given type of cancer per person in the general population (usually expressed as a rate per 100,000).

Incidence Ratio

Measures the relative rate of cancer in a Health Authority Region compared to the provincial average.


The number of deaths attributed to a particular type of cancer that occurred during the year.

Included are deaths of patients diagnosed in earlier years, persons with a new diagnosis during the year, and patients for whom a diagnosis of cancer is made only after death.

Mortality Rate

The number of new deaths of a given type of cancer per person in the general population (usually expressed as a rate per 100,000).

Overall Survival Rate

Survival rate in which deaths from any cause are counted.


Cases receiving some level of service at a BC Cancer cancer centre or Community Oncology clinic (e.g. seen by a BC Cancer oncologist; cases registered with the BC Cancer pharmacy for drug reimbursement).

Relative Survival Rate

Overall survival rate which is statistically adjusted to remove the effects of deaths from causes other than the disease.

Standard Population

Population comparisons are adjusted for age differences by expressing outcomes in terms of age distribution of the standard population. See age-standardized rates.


Cancer surveillance includes the collection of data, and the review, analysis and dissemination of findings on incidence (new cases), prevalence, morbidity, survival and mortality. Surveillance also serves to collect information on the knowledge, attitudes and behaviours of the public with respect to practices that prevent cancer, facilitate screening, extend survival and improve quality of life.

Survival Rate

Proportion of people alive at a given time after diagnosis (e.g. 5 year survival rate)

Survival Time

Elapsed time between diagnosis and death.

TNM Classification of Malignant Tumours

TNM ensures unified procedures in the general method of classification by anatomical extent of disease. Classification by stages facilitates communication of exact unequivocal information on a malignant neoplasm. The rules of classification and division by stages will be changed in connection with new results in diagnostics and therapy. (Publisher/Year: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., NewYork) 


Cancer site & type definitions

Cancer site & type definitions are cancer site groupings and coding classifications.

Provincial administrative boundaries

BC Ministry of Health maps of administrative boundaries

  • See Health Regions section for Health Authorities, Health Service Delivery Areas and Local Health Areas.
  • See Translations and Data Sets for Correspondence between Health Authorities, Health Service Delivery Areas and Local Health Areas.
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