Number of medically assisted deaths in first half of 2017 rise from 2016

Health Canada says there were 1,179 medically assisted deaths between Jan. 1 and June 30 this year, accounting for about 0.9 per cent of all deaths nationally.

In the previous six months, the first half-year in which medical assistance in dying was legal, there were 803 assisted deaths, or 0.6 per cent of all deaths.

The department says the overall numbers are consistent with international experience.

Cancer was the most frequent underlying medical condition in assisted deaths, cited in 63 per cent of cases.

The Health Canada findings in its second interim report on medical assistance in dying say the average patient was 73 at death.

While some patients were between 18 and 45 at the time of death, the vast majority of cases involved people aged 56 to 85.