Breast Cancer Death Rate Dropping



    Canadian Cancer Statistics 2007 Released Today

    TORONTO, April 11 /CNW/ - The breast cancer death rate is declining
significantly and more women are surviving longer, according to a special
report in Canadian Cancer Statistics 2007, released today by the Canadian
Cancer Society.
    The declining death rate is due to more and better screening, as well as
more effective treatments.
    "While these strides are good news, breast cancer continues to take a
significant toll," says Heather Logan, Director, Cancer Control Policy,
Canadian Cancer Society. "We chose to study breast cancer more intensely this
year because it's the most common cancer among Canadian women, as well as
globally. We must continue to make inroads against this devastating disease
that affects so many women and their families."
    According to the special report, the age-standardized death rate for
breast cancer for Canadian women has fallen 25 per cent since 1986. The
five-year relative survival rate is 86 per cent (for women diagnosed between
1996-1998), excluding Quebec.
    Better quality mammography and increased participation in organized
breast screening programs (by women aged 50-69 in particular) have led to more
breast cancers being detected earlier, which means successful treatment is
more likely.
    "We know breast cancer screening works," says Paul Lapierre, Group
Director, Public Affairs and Cancer Control, Canadian Cancer Society.
"Barriers to screening must continue to be identified and overcome. If more
women are screened, more will survive."

    Advances in breast cancer treatment have also contributed to improved
breast cancer survival, including:

    
    -   increasing use of chemotherapy and tamoxifen;
    -   more use of targeted therapy in patients whose cancers over-express
        the HER-2 oncogene.

    Breast cancer incidence rate

    For Canadian women, the overall breast cancer incidence rate increased
between 1969 and 1999 (by one per cent per year), but since then has been
stable. Reasons for the increase are not entirely known, but may be due to a
number of factors, including:

    -   Increased participation in breast screening programs, which results
        in detecting small tumors that were not yet diagnosable clinically;

    -   Changing patterns of childbearing and use of hormones. For example:
        more women are having their first child later, and older age at first
        birth increases breast cancer risk; use of birth control pills and
        combined hormone replacement therapy slightly increases breast cancer
        risk.

    Risk factors

    Factors that are known to influence the risk of getting breast cancer
include a mixture of:

    -   lifestyle behaviours (obesity, physical inactivity, drinking
        alcohol);

    -   heredity factors: family history of breast cancer, having mutated
        BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes;

    -   reproductive/hormonal factors (older age at first birth, starting
        menstruation early, irregular periods, late menopause, using birth
        control pills, taking combined hormone replacement therapy).
    

    "It's encouraging to see the overall incidence rate for this disease
beginning to stabilize," says Loraine Marrett, Chair of the Statistics
Steering Committee and an epidemiologist. "The breast cancer incidence rate in
Canada is among the highest in the world. We need further information about
modifiable risk factors so more can be done to prevent this disease. We want
to see the breast cancer incidence rate drop as much as possible so women and
their families won't have to fear this disease."

    Prevention

    "Prevention of breast cancer, and all cancers, is our ultimate hope and
goal," says Logan. "To make gains in preventing breast cancer two things need
to happen. First, policies are needed to protect the health of Canadians. For
example, eliminating or reducing exposure to cancer-causing substances in our
environment, or ensuring school programs include physical activity. Secondly,
we need more information about healthy lifestyles so women can take control of
their health and reduce their risk of cancer. This combination of individual
action and health-first policies will have the most impact on reducing the
toll cancer takes, including breast cancer."
    Based on current knowledge, opportunities for women to reduce breast
cancer risk include eating a healthy diet, being physically active,
maintaining a healthy body weight, minimizing alcohol consumption and avoiding
nonessential hormones.
    The breast cancer special report identifies four key ways to ensure
progress continues against this disease so that fewer women are diagnosed with
the disease and fewer die from it:

    
    -   Through research identify additional modifiable risk factors for
        breast cancer, such as occupational and environmental exposure, and
        vitamin D;

    -   Increase research to identify further genetic factors so that women
        at high risk can take appropriate actions;

    -   Increase participation in organized breast screening programs among
        women aged 50-69 by developing more effective methods for recruitment
        and retention;

    -   Continue to use the best treatment options, and develop and test new
        treatments.
    

    "The Canadian Cancer Society supports these recommendations," says
Lapierre. "We need to build on the knowledge we have now, so we can find out
more about preventing breast cancer and, ultimately, save more lives."
    "Canada's New Government recognizes the importance of prevention and
early detection in saving lives from cancer," says the Honourable Tony
Clement, Minister of Health. "That is why we invested $260 million in the
Canadian Strategy for Cancer Control and $300 million for the implementation
of a human papillomavirus vaccine immunization program to help protect women
and girls from cancer of the cervix. Initiatives such as these will help
reduce the number of new cases of cancer among Canadians, enhance the quality
of life of those living with cancer, and lessen the likelihood of Canadians
dying from cancer."

    General cancer trends

    Canadian Cancer Statistics 2007 reports that:

    
    -   In general, age-standardized incidence and death rates for the
        majority of cancer sites have stabilized or declined during the past
        decade.

    -   Death rates have declined for all cancers combined and for most types
        of cancer in both men and women since 1994. Exceptions are lung
        cancer in women and liver cancer in men.

    -   Despite largely stable or declining age-standardized rates, the total
        number of new cancer cases and deaths continue to rise steadily as
        the Canadian population grows and ages.

    Probability of developing/dying from cancer

    -   An estimated 39 per cent of Canadian females and 44 per cent of males
        will develop cancer during their lifetimes.

    -   An estimated 24 per cent of women and 28 per cent of men will die
        from cancer, or approximately one out of every four Canadians will
        die from cancer.
    

    Canadian Cancer Statistics 2007 is prepared, printed and distributed
through a collaboration of the Canadian Cancer Society, the Public Health
Agency of Canada, the National Cancer Institute of Canada, Statistics Canada,
provincial/territorial cancer registries, as well as university-based and
provincial/territorial cancer agency-based cancer researchers.

    The Canadian Cancer Society is a national community-based organization
whose mission is to eradicate cancer and improve the quality of life of people
living with cancer. When you want to know more about cancer, visit our website
at www.cancer.ca or call our toll-free, bilingual Cancer Information Service
at 1 888 939-3333.

    Notes:

    Five-year relative survival is the proportion of people alive five years
    after their diagnosis, adjusted for the deaths expected for people of the
    same age in the general population. Relative survival is the most often
    used method for analyzing the survival of cancer patients across a
    population.

    Survival is calculated from the date of diagnosis to five years after
    diagnosis. In Quebec the date of diagnosis is determined differently than
    other provinces and, as a result, Quebec survival cannot be compared with
    survival data from other provinces.

    Age-standardized rates refer to the number of people per 100,000 who are
    diagnosed, or die of, cancer. Age-standardization allows comparisons
    among the different years since it accounts for changes that have
    occurred over time in the age distribution of the population.

    
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    Media backgrounder: Highlights of 2007 breast cancer statistics

    Breast cancer is the special topic in Canadian Cancer Statistics 2007,
released today by the Canadian Cancer Society.

    Statistics

    -   Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women and the
        second most common cause of cancer death in women, after lung cancer.
        Despite declining death rates for breast cancer in all age groups, it
        remains the most common cancer cause of death for women under 50.

    -   An estimated 22,300 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in
        Canada in 2007. An estimated 5,300 women will die from the disease.

    -   During her lifetime, a woman has a 1 in 9 chance of developing breast
        cancer and a 1 in 27 chance of dying of the disease.

    Survival

    The five-year breast cancer relative survival in Canada is 86 per cent
(for women diagnosed between 1996-1998), excluding Quebec.
    Survival ranges between 87 and 89 percent for women aged 40-49, 50-59,
60-69, and over 70 years of age. For women under 40, survival is 79 per cent,
excluding Quebec.

    Prevalence

    Increasing numbers of women are living with a diagnosis of breast cancer.
An estimated 162,600 Canadian females - about one in every 100 - have had a
diagnosis of breast cancer at some time in the past 15 years.

    Death rates

    -   The age-standardized breast cancer death rate for Canadian females
        has dropped by 25 per cent since 1986.

    -   Death rates have been declining since 1969 in three age groups -
        20-39, 40-49 and 50-59.

    -   In women aged 60-69, the death rate has dropped steeply between 1990
        and 1999 (3.5 per cent per year), but then leveled off.

    -   In women aged 70 and over the death rate has began to decline in 1995
        (1.9 per cent per year).

    Incidence rates

    -   20-39 years of age: the incidence rate has declined slightly
        (0.2 per cent per year) from 1969 to 2003.

    -   40-49 years of age: the incidence rate appears to have been more or
        less stable up to 1982 and increased between 1982 and 1992; between
        1992 and 2003 it declined significantly by 0.7 per cent per year.

    -   50-59 years of age: prior to 1999, the incidence rate was rising;
        between 1999 and 2003, it appears to be decreasing.

    -   60-69 years of age: the incidence rate has been increasing since
        1969, but may now be stabilizing or declining.

    -   70 and over: after many years of rising rates, the incidence rate
        began to decline in 1991 with a statistically significant drop of
        0.9 per cent per year between 1991 and 2003.

    Notes

    Five-year relative survival is the proportion of people alive five years
    after their diagnosis, adjusted for the deaths expected for people of the
    same age in the general population. Relative survival is the most often
    used method for analyzing the survival of cancer patients across a
    population.

    Age-standardized rates refer to the number of people per 100,000 who are
    diagnosed, or die of, cancer. Age-standardization allows comparisons
    among the different years since it accounts for changes that have
    occurred over time in the age distribution of the population.

    Survival is calculated from the date of diagnosis to five years after
    diagnosis. In Quebec the date of diagnosis is determined differently than
    other provinces and, as a result, Quebec survival cannot be compared with
    survival data from other provinces.


    Media backgrounder: Canadian Cancer Statistics 2007: Fast facts

    Canadian Cancer Statistics 2007 was released today by the Canadian Cancer
Society.

    Current new cases and deaths

    An estimated 159,900 new cases of cancer and 72,700 deaths from cancer
will occur in Canada in 2007.

    Survival

    Among Canadians diagnosed between 1996 and 1998, the five-year relative
survival for all cancers combined was 60 per cent.

    Males

    Overall death rate: Since 1988, the overall cancer death rate for Canadian
men has been declining as a result of decreases in death rates for lung,
prostate, colorectal and other cancers.

    Overall incidence rate: The overall cancer incidence rate for men rose
slightly in the early 1990s (due to more detection of prostate cancer using
the prostate specific antigen (PSA) test) and then declined sharply. More
recently, incidence has since been dropping gradually, probably because of the
declining incidence of lung cancer.

    Between 1994 and 2003 the following statistically significant changes of
two per cent or more per year were observed:

    -   decreases in incidence rates for larynx, lung and stomach cancers;

    -   increases in incidence rates for thyroid and liver cancers and
        melanoma;

    -   decreases in death rates for testicular, Hodgkin lymphoma, stomach,
        larynx, prostate, oral, non-Hodgkin lymphoma and lung cancer.

    Females

    Overall death rate: Since 1988, the overall death rate for Canadian women
has declined slightly.

    Overall incidence rate: For Canadian women the overall cancer incidence
rate has been increasing slowly and steadily (due largely to increasing
incidence of lung cancer), but may be stabilizing.

    Between 1994 and 2003 the following statistically significant changes of
two per cent or more per year were observed for females:

    -   decreases in incidence rates for larynx, stomach and cervical
        cancers;

    -   increase in the incidence rate for thyroid cancer;

    -   decreases in death rates for cervical and stomach cancers.

    Lung cancer

    Among women, lung cancer incidence and death rates have increased since
1978 and continue to do so. Smoking rates among women began to decline
slightly only in the mid 1990s, therefore, declining lung cancer rates have
yet to become apparent.
    Among men, rising incidence and death rates for lung cancer began to level
off in the mid-1980s and have been declining ever since.

    Prostate cancer

    The prostate cancer incidence rate gradually increased since 1990, with
two peaks - one in 1993 and another smaller one in 2001 - each time followed
by a decline. The peaks are predominantly the result of increasing detection
using the PSA test. The trend has now returned to its previous more gradual
rate of increase.
    The prostate cancer death rate started to decline in the mid 1990s. The
death rate declined significantly by 2.7 per cent per year between 1994 and
2003, probably due to a combination of earlier detection and improved
treatment.

    Colorectal cancer: Death rates continue to decline significantly for both
men and women. Incidence rates for both sexes were stable from 1994 to 2003.

    Cancer in children and youth: The incidence rates for all cancers, and for
most common types of cancer (leukemia, lymphoma and brain cancer), have
remained constant in Canadian children and youth aged 0-19 over the past 20
years. Death rates for childhood and youth cancers have declined steadily
since 1985. There has been a significant drop for leukemia.

    Prevalence

    -   2.5 per cent of Canadian males and 2.8 per cent of Canadian females -
        more than 800,000 Canadians - have had a diagnosis of cancer in the
        previous 15 years.
    

    Notes:

    Age-standardized rates refer to the number of people per 100,000 who are
    diagnosed, or die of, cancer. Age-standardization allows comparisons
    among the different years since it accounts for changes that have
    occurred over time in the age distribution of the population.

    Five-year relative survival is the proportion of people alive five years
    after their diagnosis, adjusted for the deaths expected for people of the
    same age in the general population. Relative survival is the most often
    used method for analyzing the survival of cancer patients across a
    population.





For further information:

For further information: Kerstin Ring, Senior Manager, Communications,
(416) 934-5664; French media contact: Alexa Giorgi, Bilingual Communications
Specialist, (416) 934-5681


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