For many Canadian women, breast cancer is a genuine concern; in fact, one out of eight Canadian women will receive a diagnosis in her lifetime. Though there has been a slight decrease in breast cancer rates over the last two decades, thanks to advancements in detection and treatment, it’s still the most common cancer in women (with the exception of non-melanoma skin cancer). Breast cancer is also the second leading cause of cancer death among Canadian women.
2020 estimates show roughly 27,400 women in Canada would be diagnosed with breast cancer. Though less common, breast cancer can impact men as well. Over the same year, an estimated 240 men would be diagnosed with breast cancer.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This month is dedicated to those affected by breast cancer and those living with it. By raising awareness and funds to support breast cancer research, we stand with our mothers, sisters, daughters, and women from coast-to-coast in our fight against the disease.
Breast cancer is abnormal and uncontrollable growth of cells in the breast that create a mass of tissue called a tumor. Despite advances in scientific and medical research, the causes of breast cancer remain unknown.
Breast cancer doesn’t usually present any signs or symptoms in its early stages, which is why regular screening is so vital to detecting the disease and improving outcomes for women.
Breast Cancer Awareness Month is raising awareness about the importance of regular screening. Early detection improves the chances of survival and access to more effective treatments.
In addition, a month of events and fundraising helps fund research to improve the detection, diagnosis, and treatment of Canadians with breast cancer, including support for their family and caregivers.
The most significant risk factors for breast cancer are sex and age. As women get older, breast cancer rates increase. 83% of the cases of breast cancer occur in women over 50 years of age.
Simply being a woman is a risk factor for breast cancer. Women develop breast cancer at a much higher rate than men because their breast cells are exposed to the female hormones estrogen and progesterone. These hormones, especially estrogen, are linked with breast cancer and boost the growth of some breast cancers.
Family history can also increase your risk of developing breast cancer over your lifetime. Having one first-degree relative (such as a mother, sister, or daughter) with breast cancer can double a woman’s risk of breast cancer, however, it is not clear whether a family’s pattern of cancer is due to chance, shared lifestyle factors, genes, or a combination of these factors.
Though family history is out of your power, some risk factors are in your control. These include alcohol consumption, obesity, and physical inactivity. It is essential to eat a balanced diet and maintain an active lifestyle to decrease these risk factors as you age.
Regardless of family history or lifestyle, it is vital that all women consider their risk for breast cancer and get regular checkups and screenings. Regular breast cancer screenings are one of the best prevention measures you can take against the disease.
Screening tests help find breast cancer before any symptoms develop. Early detection and diagnosis lead to better treatment outcomes.
The most reliable way to detect breast cancer early in women is with a mammogram, a low-dose breast x-ray that identifies if cancer is developing in tissue. Depending on your age, the frequency of mammograms changes. Most women are advised to begin getting mammograms at age 50. Be sure to talk to your doctor about your breast cancer risk and determine if having a mammogram is right for you.
You can also perform self-examinations at home. A self-examination involves checking your breasts for lumps or changes. Many breast problems are first discovered by women themselves. Learn how to perform a breast self-exam at least once a month from the comfort of your home and communicate any concerns or abnormalities to your family doctor.
Help Support Canadians with Breast Cancer
One of the best ways to help those impacted by breast cancer is to donate to its research. Make a donation to honour a loved one affected by the disease and help improve the outcomes of someone diagnosed with breast cancer in the future.
If breast cancer is a cause that is close to your heart, we offer life insurance plans that can allow you to leave a legacy donation by financially supporting the cause. Organizations that work hard towards finding a cure, like The Breast Cancer Society of Canada, can be named as a beneficiary of your life insurance policy, helping to bring them closer to their mission. To explore your life insurance options, contact us today, and we can help you get started.
Canada Protection Plan and its employees and Advisors do not provide tax, legal or accounting advice. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal or accounting advice. You should consult your own tax, legal and accounting advisors before engaging in any transaction.
- 1 https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/video/breast-cancer-awareness-month-2017.html
- 2 https://www.cancer.ca/en/cancer-information/cancer-type/breast/statistics/?region=on
- 3 https://action.cancer.ca/en/ways-to-give/breast-cancer-awareness-month
- 4 https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/chronic-diseases/cancer/breast-cancer.html
- 5 https://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/breast-self-exam
- 6 https://action.cancer.ca/en/ways-to-give/breast-cancer-awareness-month