Most breast cancer survivors underestimate their risk of cancer returning, Canadian Survey reveals

    The Canadian Breast Cancer Network urges breast cancer survivors to speak
    with their physicians

    OTTAWA, Sept. 19 /CNW Telbec/ - Despite their fight with breast cancer
and the wealth of resources available, survivors remain uninformed of the risk
of cancer recurrence, according to a new important Canadian survey. The
survey, led by the Canadian Breast Cancer Network (CBCN) and conducted by
Ipsos Reid, shows that only one in 10 women surveyed are aware of their risk
of relapse after five years of tamoxifen (hormonal breast cancer) treatment.
    "The fact that many survivors do not realize that their cancer may return
is alarming, especially since evidence shows that one-third of survivors will
experience recurrence within 15 years of the initial diagnosis. Half of breast
cancer recurrences occur five to fifteen years post diagnosis, so there
remains a long-term ongoing risk of recurrence," said Dianna Schreuer, past
president of the Canadian Breast Cancer Network (CBCN) and breast cancer
survivor. "For the first time in Canada, the survey shows that post-menopausal
women are not aware of this risk and may not be taking the precautions
necessary to remain cancer-free. It is therefore critical that breast cancer
patients and survivors speak with their physicians to ensure they are well
informed about their risk and any appropriate treatment options available, so
that they can optimize their freedom from relapse."
    The Ipsos Reid survey, conducted under the leadership of the CBCN,
involved more than 225 partner and member groups. Results from the survey show
that women with breast cancer need more information:

      - Half of breast cancer survivors did not feel they were provided with
        information about their risk of recurrence;

      - Four women in 10 felt cured after five years of tamoxifen therapy,
        previously used as the standard course of treatment for breast

      - Half of women surveyed did not receive information about prescription
        treatments that could reduce their risk.

    Francine Gervais, a Montreal breast cancer survivor was prescribed
tamoxifen therapy after her surgery and chemotherapy. "I was diagnosed with
breast cancer over seven years ago. I had two tumors removed then a
mastectomy. When I finished my five years of treatment, I really felt as if I
had won the battle; I was not really aware of the risks of my cancer
    Francine's story reflects a reality for many women who underestimate the
risk of cancer recurrence.
    To address this lack of follow-up and to ensure that recovery is a more
positive and reassuring experience for women with breast cancer, the CBCN
strongly recommends that women speak with their physicians to ask the
following questions:

      - For women with breast cancer who are currently on standard treatment,
        ask your doctor "what is my risk?"

      - For women with breast cancer who have completed standard treatment,
        ask your doctor "what are the next steps and what are my options?"

      - For women with breast cancer who have been off treatment (no matter
        how long), ask your doctor "what has changed since my therapy was
        completed? What are my options?"

    "By asking the right questions, you'll know your risk and what treatment
options are available after completion of five years of therapy," said
Dr. Shail Verma, Medical Oncologist, Ottawa Hospital and lead consultant on
the survey. "Although there is a risk of cancer recurrence, current treatment
guidelines, such as those from Cancer Care Ontario, reinforce that modern
post-surgical (adjuvant) therapy options such as aromatase inhibitors,
including extended therapy beyond five years, can save lives."
    For Francine Gervais, asking the right questions made a big difference in
her life. "I had been feeling the need to discuss more seriously the
possibility of recurrence. After speaking to my doctor about my next steps, I
feel I am in control and doing all I can to remain cancer-free for life," says
Mrs. Gervais.


    Breast cancer is the most common cancer among Canadian women,(i) with one
in nine women expected to develop it during their lifetime.(i) In 2007, an
estimated 22,300 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer and 5,300 will die
from it.(ii)
    The five-year survival rate is now 86 per cent, meaning that of all the
women diagnosed with breast cancer today, 86 out of every 100 will be alive
five years from now.(ii) Treatment and better organized breast screening
programs are being attributed to a 25 per cent decline in breast cancer death
rates since 1986.(ii)


    The survey was conducted by Ipsos Reid on behalf of the Canadian Breast
Cancer Network/SOLARIS Group and sponsored by an unrestricted educational
grant from Novartis. The survey was administered online and by mail April 12th
to May 28th, 2007 to breast cancer survivors who completed four years of
standard therapy for the treatment of early, non-metastatic breast cancer.
Invitations to complete either online or mail-back surveys were sent to women
from a list obtained from the Canadian Breast Cancer Network and qualifying
Ipsos Online Household Panel Members. Breast cancer associations, including
CBCN, also posted invitations to complete the survey on their websites. A
total of 230 breast cancer survivors responded to the survey, resulting in an
overall confidence interval of +/-6.5 per cent.


    The Canadian Breast Cancer Network (CBCN) is a survivor-directed, national
network of organizations and individuals. Its mission is to provide a national
link between all groups and individuals concerned about breast cancer and to
represent the concerns of all Canadians affected by breast cancer and those at
risk. CBCN has 225 partner and member groups and hundreds of individual
members. Its clearinghouse website,, receives over three million
hits and 40,000 to 60,000 unique visitors a month. The Network has two
publications: Network News, a quarterly newsletter, and Outreach, an e-letter
distributed monthly. CBCN works with young women with breast cancer; women
with breast cancer living in rural, remote and Northern regions of Canada; and
women living with advanced metastatic breast cancer. The Network also runs
awareness activities related to the financial cost of having breast cancer and
access to timely treatment and support. CBCN holds several
webcasts/teleconferences a year. All services, publications and
webcasts/teleconferences are offered in English and French and are free of
charge. For more information: or 1-800-685-8820.


    Ipsos Reid is Canada's market intelligence leader, the country's leading
provider of public opinion research, and research partner for loyalty and
forecasting and modelling insights. With operations in eight cities, Ipsos
Reid employs more than 600 research professionals and support staff in Canada.
The company has the biggest network of telephone call centres in the country,
as well as the largest pre-recruited household and online panels. Ipsos Reid's
marketing research and public affairs practices offer the premier suite of
research vehicles in Canada, all of which provide clients with actionable and
relevant information. Staffed with seasoned research consultants with
extensive industry-specific backgrounds, Ipsos Reid offers syndicated
information or custom solutions across key sectors of the Canadian economy,
including consumer packaged goods, financial services, automotive, retail, and
technology & telecommunications. Ipsos Reid is an Ipsos company, a leading
global survey-based market research group.

    Video News Release Available Via Satellite:

    10:00 - 10:30 firm, Eastern Wednesday, September 19, 2007
    Anik F2C/7B @ 111.1 West
    Vertical Polarization, D/L Freq. 3980 MHz.
    Audio subcarriers 6.8 left, 6.2 right

    14:00 - 14:30 firm, Eastern, Wednesday, September 19, 2007
    Anik F2C/7B @ 111.1 West
    Vertical Polarization, D/L Freq. 3980 MHz.
    Audio subcarriers 6.8 left, 6.2 right

    Available at Toronto T.O.C. at the same times:
    PGAD 14:00 - 14:30 Eastern,
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    (i)  Canadian Cancer Society Web site. Breast cancer stats. Available at:,3182,3596_14435_371399_
         langId-en,00.html. Retrieved on July 24, 2007.
    (ii) Canadian Breast Cancer Network Web site. Canadian Cancer Statistics
         2007: Breast Cancer Death Rate Dropping. Available at: Retrieved on July 24,

For further information:

For further information: or to schedule an interview with a
representative from the Canadian Breast Cancer Network, please contact:
Jennifer Goode, Edelman, (416) 979-1120 ext. 230,;
Julia Alter, Edelman, (416) 979-1120 ext. 340,

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