Estimating the future cancer management costs attributable to modifiable risk factors in Canada Journal Articles uri icon

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  • OBJECTIVES: An estimated 33-37% of incident cancers in Canada are attributable to modifiable risk factors. Interventions targeting these risk factors would minimize the substantial health and economic burdens Canadians face due to cancer. We estimate the future health and economic burden of cancer in Canada by incorporating data from the Canadian Population Attributable Risk of Cancer (ComPARe) study into OncoSim, a web-based microsimulation tool. METHODS: Using the integrated OncoSim population attributable risk and population impact measures, we evaluated risk factor-targeted intervention scenarios implemented in 2020, assuming the targeted risk factor prevalence reduction would be achieved by 2032 with a 12-year latency period. RESULTS: We estimate that smoking will be the largest contributor to cancer-related costs, with a cost of CAD $44.4 billion between 2032 and 2044. An estimated CAD $3.3 billion of the cost could be avoided with a 30% reduction in smoking prevalence by 2022. Following smoking, the next highest cancer management costs are associated with inadequate physical activity and excess body weight, accounting for CAD $10.7 billion ($2.7 billion avoidable) and CAD $9.8 billion ($3.2 billion avoidable), respectively. Avoidable costs for other risk factors range from CAD $90 million to CAD $2.5 billion. CONCLUSION: Interventions targeting modifiable cancer risk factors could prevent a substantial number of incident cancer cases and billions of dollars in cancer management costs. With limited budgets and rising costs in cancer care in Canada, these simulation models and results are valuable for researchers and policymakers to inform decisions and prioritize and evaluate intervention programs.


  • Ruan, Yibing
  • Poirier, Abbey E
  • Pader, Joy
  • Asakawa, Keiko
  • Lu, Chaohui
  • Memon, Saima
  • Miller, Anthony B
  • Walter, Stephen
  • Villeneuve, Paul J
  • King, Will D
  • Volesky, Karena D
  • Smith, Leah
  • De, Prithwish
  • Friedenreich, Christine M
  • Brenner, Darren R

publication date

  • December 2021