Government of Canada and Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation invest in national research program on Breast Cancer in Young Women

TORONTO, June 16, 2014 /CNW/ - Mr. Patrick Brown, Member of Parliament for Barrie joined Ms. Sandra Palmaro, Co-CEO of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, and Dr. Stephen Robbins, Scientific Director of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research - Institute of Cancer Research to announce a $5.7 million investment to support a pan-Canadian research team investigating breast cancer in young women.

The program, led by Dr. Steven Narod, Senior Scientist and Director, Familial Breast Cancer Research Unit, Women's College Research Institute and Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Breast Cancer, of Women's College Hospital in Toronto, is entitled "Towards better outcomes for young women with breast cancer: A Pan-Canadian Collaborative," and includes four sub-projects for a total team of 62 researchers and clinicians at 44 institutions and clinics across Canada. The research aims to better understand the unique biology of breast cancer in women under 40 and its implications for prevention, risk reduction, and delivering care that addresses their distinct needs.

The program brings together Canada's best minds in breast cancer research to address gaps not currently served by traditional operating grants or other existing funding mechanisms. This national network of breast cancer researchers will establish a Canadian Young Breast Cancer Cohort comprised of 1,200 newly-diagnosed young women with all stages of breast cancer from 28 sites across Canada. The Cohort will provide personal, lifestyle, and treatment information, as well as blood and tumour samples to address a range of research questions. The team will also assemble a retrospective database of 3,000 women who have previously been diagnosed with breast cancer when they were under the age of 40 in order to assess longer term outcomes related to recurrence and survival.

The team was funded through the joint CBCF-CIHR Breast Cancer in Young Women Research Program - an initiative to improve the clinical outcomes and quality of life for young women with breast cancer. The research proposed could lead to significant changes in clinical practice and policy, as well as information to enable women to make more informed decisions about their lives during and after breast cancer.

Quick Facts

  • Breast cancer incidence increases with age and is primarily a disease of postmenopausal women. It is the most common cancer among Canadian women (excluding non-melanoma skin cancers) and is the second leading cause of death from cancer.

  • Despite the fact that breast cancer is a leading cause of cancer deaths in women 20 to 40 years of age, little research has been done specifically on breast cancer in younger women and early onset sporadic breast cancer is poorly understood. It is estimated that 24,400 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year, of which 4% of new breast cancer cases diagnosed will be under the age of 40.

  • Breast cancer in young women tends to be more advanced at the time of diagnosis and also more aggressive and resistant to treatment. Prognosis is therefore generally worse for this group than for older women.

  • The Breast Cancer in Young Women National Research Program - a partnership between the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) - Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) was designed to facilitate progress in this research area towards improving the clinical outcomes and quality of life of young women with breast cancer. This Program brings together a number of independently fundable, synergistic sub-projects, into a single integrated program spanning the multiple disciplines of breast cancer research to support a holistic, "whole woman" approach.

  • This funding is one of the largest amounts ever granted in Canada to the study of breast cancer in young women and the program is among the largest ever undertaken in this area.

Quotes
"Far too many women have lost their lives to breast cancer. Continued investment in research, especially in the areas of screening and early detection, will reduce the incidence of breast cancer and save the lives of many Canadians".
- Mr. Patrick Brown, Member of Parliament for Barrie

"We are very pleased to see our donor dollars go further through this partnership with CIHR.  We believe that this investment will make a meaningful difference in addressing the unique challenges that young women with breast cancer face. With a research investment of this size and scope, being led by some of the brightest research minds across the country, our hope is that young women diagnosed with breast cancer in the coming years will have improved outcomes and a better quality of life."
- Ms. Sandra Palmaro, Co-CEO, Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation

"I am excited to join our partners at CBCF to make this important announcement today. The research that is being supported will create the knowledge to improve the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of this devastating disease, and help address the needs of survivors and the terminally ill. I am confident that these research efforts will result in real improvements for the young women who will face this diagnosis."
- Dr. Stephen Robbins, Scientific Director of the Canadian Institute of Health Research - Institute of Cancer Research

"Breast cancer in this age group tends to be more advanced at the time of diagnosis, more aggressive and more resistant to treatment. Prognosis is therefore generally worse for women under 40 years than for older women. That's why this research program is so important."
- Dr. Steven Narod, Senior Scientist and Director, Familial Breast Cancer Research Unit, Women's College Research Institute and Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Breast Cancer.

"Almost two years ago, I had the privilege of attending and speaking at the Breast Cancer in Young Women Workshop where this research competition was conceived.  Today, it's a joy to see the outcome of this competition and I'm excited to see what will come from this incredible research program. I was 23 years old when I was diagnosed; I'm proof that there's no age too young for breast cancer to affect someone."
- Ms. Alicia Tait, breast cancer survivor and young woman. Tait, of Mississauga, Ont., is now 28 years old and the mother of a 4-year-old girl and 2-year-old boy.

Related Products

http://www.cbcf.org/central/AboutUsMain/MediaCenter/PressReleases/Pages/2014 -06-16_BCYW.aspx

Associated Links

CIHR Institute of Cancer Research

Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation

About the CIHR
The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) is the Government of Canada's health research investment agency. CIHR's mission is to create new scientific knowledge and to enable its translation into improved health, more effective health services and products, and a strengthened health care system for Canadians. Composed of 13 Institutes, CIHR provides leadership and support to more than 12,600 health researchers and trainees across Canada. www.cihr-irsc.gc.ca

About CBCF
Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation (CBCF) is the leading community-driven organization in Canada dedicated to creating a future without breast cancer. Its investments in innovative and relevant research and education have led to progress in breast cancer prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care. Since 1986, CBCF has been at the forefront of a nationwide movement supporting and advocating for the breast cancer community. For more information, visit www.cbcf.org.

SOURCE: Canadian Institutes of Health Research

For further information:

David Coulombe
Media Relations
Canadian Institutes of Health Research
613-946-0927
mediarelations@cihr-irsc.gc.ca


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