How Much Does Cancer Treatment Cost in Canada? Here’s What You Should Know

Cancer is a devastating disease affecting millions worldwide, and Canada is no exception. Unfortunately, the victims of this fatal disease fight the illness by getting into scruffle with treatment expenses.

It begs the question, how much does cancer treatment cost in Canada? Unfortunately, it isn’t easy to give an exact answer because many variables are involved, such as the city you’re living.

But the short answer is a lot. If you got a cancer diagnosis, it’s understandable that you’d be concerned with the financial aspect.

So, we’ll provide an overview of the cancer treatment cost in Canada and how you can navigate the drowning healthcare costs.

Before diving deep, check out the common types of Cancers.

Common Types of Cancer in Canada

Overview of Cancer Treatment Costs in Canada

How Provincial Governments Fund Cancer Treatments

Out-Of-Pocket Costs for Cancer Patients

Funding Options to Help With Expenses

Insurance Coverage for Cancer Treatment

Tips for Reducing the Financial Burden of Treatment

Common Types of Cancer in Canada

Woman in bed suffering from cancer

Breast and lung cancer are pretty rampant here in Canada. Find other common cancers below.

Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is the most popularly diagnosed cancer among Canadian women, accounting for approximately 25% of all cancer cases.

It’s estimated that one in eight Canadian women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime. While breast cancer can occur in men, it is much less common. The good news is that early detection and treatment bump up survival rates.

Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among Canadian men. It makes up approximately 20% of all cancer cases. Based on estimates, one in nine Canadian men will develop prostate cancer in their lifetime.

Most prostate cancers are slow-growing and may not require treatment. But some could be aggressive and require immediate intervention.

Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is Canada’s third most diagnosed cancer and the leading cause of cancer-related deaths. Approximately 85% of lung cancer cases are caused by smoking, but non-smokers can also develop the disease.

Symptoms may not appear until the cancer has spread, making early detection challenging. Quitting smoking and regular lung cancer screenings limits the risk of developing the disease.

Colorectal Cancer

Colorectal cancer is another widespread cancer in both men and women in Canada. Study proves that one in 13 men and one in 16 women will develop colorectal cancer in their lifetime.

Early detection through regular screenings increases survival rates.

Skin Cancer

Another widespread variant is skin cancer, one of the most preventable. Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun and indoor tanning devices amps the risk of developing skin cancer.

So, protect your skin from the sun and avoid indoor tanning.

Overview of Cancer Treatment Costs in Canada

A 2022 estimate pins the number of Canadians diagnosed with cancer at 233,900, with 85,100 cancer-related deaths. Those numbers are pretty scary, to say the least.

But while cancer’s physical and emotional toll is undoubtedly immense, the financial impact of cancer treatment is enormous.

Cancer treatment costs vary widely depending on various metrics. The treatment costs fluctuate based on the type and stage of cancer and the type of treatment required.

Generally speaking, the publicly funded healthcare system covers cancer treatment in Canada, but patients may incur many out-of-pocket expenses.

One of the most significant expenses associated with initial cancer treatment is medications. Cancer drugs are costly, with some new therapies costing tens of thousands annually.

In some cases, private insurance may cover the cost of these drugs, but the price can be prohibitively high for patients without insurance.

Another significant cost associated with cancer treatment is hospitalization. Sometimes, patients may need to spend considerable time in the hospital, undergoing surgery, radiation therapy, or chemotherapy.

Although the healthcare system generally covers hospitalization, there may still be out-of-pocket expenses like parking fees or fees for private rooms.

Other costs associated with cancer treatment include transportation to and from appointments, home care services, and lost income due to time off work. These expenses add up quickly and place a significant financial burden on patients and their families.

Despite the high cost of cancer treatment, early detection of primary cancer and treatment can significantly improve outcomes. Plus, the phase of care affects the cost of treatment remarkably.

How Provincial Governments Fund Cancer Treatments

Woman receiving radiation therapy for cancer

Provincial governments play a huge role in managing the cost of cancer treatment. Depending on where you live in Canada, your provincial healthcare plan may cover all or part of the cost of your cancer treatment.

Frankly, cancer care is a top priority for provincial governments in Canada. So, significant resources are dedicated to ensuring that patients receive the best possible care.

Each province has its unique approach to funding cancer care, but there are some commonalities across the country.

One of Canada’s primary sources of funding for cancer care is the publicly funded healthcare system. The local health insurance plans cover cancer treatments like chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery. Therefore, patients don’t have to pay out of pocket for these services.

Furthermore, the government invests in cancer research and prevention programs. These programs aim to reduce cancer incidence and improve patients’ quality of life. An example of this is the mental health policy research.

Besides these prevention programs, they fund specialized cancer centers offering comprehensive cancer care services. These centers typically provide various services, including diagnostics, treatment, and support services like counseling and nutrition advice.

The Ontario regional cancer center is an example of such a cancer center. The funding for these centers can come from multiple sources, including provincial healthcare budgets, donations, and grants.

Another way that the government funds cancer care in Canada is through partnerships with non-profit organizations and community groups.

These groups provide additional support services like transportation, home care, and special care for elderly cancer patients. In addition, provincial governments often fund these groups to help them continue their work.

Finally, they also fund palliative care services for all cancer patients alike. Palliative care is a specialized care that aims to enhance the quality of life for patients with serious illnesses. This can include pain management, emotional support, and end-of-life care.

Out-Of-Pocket Costs for Cancer Patients

As much as cancer affects your physical and mental health, it also creates an immense financial burden for many cancer patients and their families.

Direct costs incurred for cancer care are substantial. And understanding these costs is an essential step in managing the financial aspects of cancer treatment. The following are the expected out-of-pocket expenses for cancer patients.


Cancer drugs are expensive, and not all insurance plans cover the total cost. As a result, some cancer patients may have to pay for medicines out of pocket, which can be a significant financial burden.

Co-payments and Deductibles

Even with insurance coverage, cancer patients may still have to pay co-payments or deductibles for medical appointments, tests, and treatments.


Patients often need to travel to and from appointments. And this attracts transportation costs like gas, parking, and public transit.


Lodging is a considerable expense for patients who need to travel for treatment. In addition, hotels or other temporary accommodations are costly. So, patients may need to stay for an extended period.

Home Care Services

Some cancer patients may need home care services like nursing care or help with daily activities. Unfortunately, these services are often expensive, and insurance coverage may be limited.

Lost Income

Cancer causes patients to miss work, leading to lost revenue. This could be a scary burden for patients who are the primary breadwinner for their families.

Emotional Support

Cancer can affect a person’s emotional well-being, and counseling services can be helpful. However, counseling services don’t always fall under insurance coverage. As a result, patients may need to pay for these services out of pocket.

Funding Options to Help With Expenses

Fortunately, several funding options are available to help with expenses related to cancer care. Here are some of the funding options available to Canadian cancer patients and their families:

Provincial and Territorial Health Insurance Plans

Public health insurance covers most cancer treatments and related medical expenses in Canada. The plans vary by province and territory, but most often cover hospital stays, surgeries, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy expenses.

Private Health Insurance

Many Canadians also have private health insurance through their employer or purchased individually. Private health insurance offers additional coverage for expenses not covered by public health insurance. These expenses may include prescription drugs, home care, and alternative therapies.

Government Programs

The government offers numerous programs to limit the cost of cancer care for patients.

Non-Profit Organizations

Many non-profit organizations in Canada provide financial assistance to cancer patients and their families.

Personal Savings and Crowdfunding

Many cancer patients and their families rely on personal savings and crowdfunding to cover the costs of cancer care.

Crowdfunding platforms like GoFundMe and FundRazr come in handy to raise money from friends, family, and the broader community.

Insurance Coverage for Cancer Treatment

Health insurance concept with wooden blocks with medical icon

Cancer treatment is expensive. That’s why you need to understand insurance coverage options.

Let’s give an overview of insurance coverage for cancer treatment in Canada:

Public Health Insurance

Public health insurance covers most cancer treatments and related medical expenses in Canada. Patients with public health insurance should consult their province or territory’s health ministry to understand the specifics of their coverage. One standard insurance that covers cancer is the Ontario health insurance plan.

Private Health Insurance

Private health insurance provides additional coverage for expenses not managed by public health insurance. But they vary widely in their range, so patients should carefully review their policies to understand their scope.

Critical Illness Insurance

Critical illness insurance is designed to provide a lump sum payment to policyholders diagnosed with a critical illness like cancer. It covers medical expenses, lost income, and other related costs.

Tips for Reducing the Financial Burden of Treatment

Talk to Your Healthcare Provider

Your healthcare provider can help you understand the costs associated with your treatment plan. They may also suggest alternative treatments or affordable medications.

Look Into Public Health Insurance

Public health insurance handles most of the cancer treatments and related medical expenses. Therefore, patients with this insurance should consult their province or territory’s health ministry to understand the specifics of their coverage.

Be Proactive About Managing Expenses

Patients can take several steps to manage their treatment expenses. For instance, you can ask for generic versions of medications, use mail-order pharmacies, and negotiate payment plans with medical providers.

Seek Financial Counseling

Many cancer centers and hospitals have social workers and financial counselors who connect patients with available resources. Take advantage of this opportunity.


Sadly, there’s no simple answer to how much cancer treatment will cost in Canada. It’s impossible to accurately estimate the cost without knowing more about the individual.

But it’s important to remember that cancer treatment is expensive and will require some financial sacrifice, regardless of where you live.

Regardless of your situation, various financing options are available in Canada to help you with the cost of cancer treatment. So, take the time to explore these options and ask the right questions to make the best possible decision.

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