Canadian Journal of Public Health

, Volume 104, Issue 7, pp e443–e449 | Cite as

Rates of Cancer Incidence Across Terciles of the Foreign-born Population in Canada From 2001–2006

  • Gisèle M. CarrièreEmail author
  • Claudia Sanmartin
  • Heather Bryant
  • Gina Lockwood
Quantitative Research



To address the issue of comparative risk of cancer in Canada’s immigrant population, an area-based methodology was applied to examine whether or not estimated cancer incidence rates among individuals living in given areas vary systematically according to the concentration of foreignborn individuals living in the same area. This method provides an alternative, accessible surveillance method in the absence of linked individual-level information to extend the work of others by providing both national and subnational standardized, hence comparable, results to address this issue.


Canadian Cancer Registry data (2001 to 2006) and 2006 Census data provided dissemination area information regarding the concentration of the foreign-born population and population estimates for rate denominators. Cancer (all cause and cause-specific) incidence rate ratios (agestandardized and by age/sex) were calculated by foreign-born concentration areas at both national and regional levels.


An inverse gradient was identified between cancer incidence rates and area concentration of foreign-born, with the all-sites cancer rate ranging from a low of 388 per 100,000 among individuals living in areas with a high concentration of foreign-born to a high of 493 per 100,000 among individuals living in areas with a low concentration of foreign-born. This pattern occurred nationally for lung, colorectal, prostate and female breast cancers. However, for liver, nasopharynx, and thyroid cancers, higher cancer rates were observed in areas with a higher versus lower concentration of foreign-born populations.


The study findings provide suggestive evidence of decreased cancer risk among foreign-born populations for most cancers except nasopharynx, liver and thyroid for which risks were higher. The results of this study demonstrate the value of ecological-based methods for disease surveillance in the absence of individual-level information on immigrant status in the national cancer registry.

Key words

Immigrants cancer incidence vital statistics 



Pour aborder la question du risque comparatif de cancer dans la population immigrante du Canada, nous avons appliqué une méthode régionale pour déterminer si les taux d’incidence estimatifs du cancer chez les résidents de certaines régions varient systématiquement selon la concentration de personnes nées à l’étranger vivant dans la même région. En l’absence de données individuelles maillées, une telle méthode offre une solution de surveillance accessible pour compléter le travail d’autres chercheurs; elle offre des résultats à la fois nationaux et sousnationaux standardisés, et donc comparables, pour aborder la question.


Les données du Registre canadien du cancer (2001 à 2006) et celles du Recensement de 2006 ont fourni de l’information par aire de diffusion sur la concentration de personnes nées à l’étranger et des estimations démographiques pour les dénominateurs des taux. Les ratios des taux d’incidence (standardisés pour l’âge et pour l’âge/le sexe) du cancer (toutes causes confondues et par cause) ont été calculés pour chaque zone de concentration de personnes nées à l’étranger à l’échelle nationale et régionale.


Nous avons observé un gradient inversé entre les taux d’incidence du cancer et la concentration régionale de personnes nées à l’étranger: les taux de cancer tous sites confondus variaient de 388 p. 100 000 (chez les résidents des régions à forte concentration de personnes nées à l’étranger) à 493 p. 100 000 (chez les résidents des régions à faible concentration de personnes nées à l’étranger). Cette tendance se manifestait à l’échelle nationale pour les cancers du poumon, colorectal et de la prostate et pour le cancer du sein féminin. Toutefois, pour les cancers du foie, du nasopharynx et de la thyroïde, nous avons observé des taux de cancer supérieurs dans les régions à forte plutôt qu’à faible concentration de personnes nées à l’étranger.


Les constatations de l’étude donnent à penser que le risque de cancer est réduit au sein des populations nées à l’étranger pour la plupart des cancers sauf ceux du nasopharynx, du foie et de la thyroïde, pour lesquels les risques sont supérieurs. Ces résultats démontrent la valeur des méthodes écologiques pour la surveillance des maladies en l’absence de données individuelles sur le statut d’immigrant dans le registre national du cancer.

Mots clés

immigrants incidence du cancer statistiques de l’état civil 


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Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gisèle M. Carrière
    • 1
    Email author
  • Claudia Sanmartin
    • 1
  • Heather Bryant
    • 2
  • Gina Lockwood
    • 3
  1. 1.Health Analysis DivisionStatistics CanadaVancouverCanada
  2. 2.Canadian Partnership Against CancerTorontoCanada
  3. 3.Analytics and Surveillance and Senior BiostatisticianCanadian Partnership Against CancerTorontoCanada

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