Breast cancer is one of the leading cancer affecting women in Canada, with one in eight women expected to be diagnosed in their lifetime. Every October, during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we recognize the courage of breast cancer survivors and those facing this disease. We also take the opportunity to promote the importance of early detection and steps that can be taken to lower the risk of developing breast cancer.
More than 70% of breast cancer cases are diagnosed early on, in stages I and II. Through advances in early detection and improved treatments, the survival rate for breast cancer has been increasing over the last several decades. This means that Canadians affected by breast cancer are able to live longer and healthier lives after a diagnosis. While these advances are a positive step, more needs to be done to address breast cancer in Canada.
The Government of Canada is investing in research to improve our understanding of the most common risk factors associated with breast cancer. The Canadian Institutes of Health Research is collaborating with the Canadian Cancer Society and the Stand Up to Cancer Canada initiative. Together, they will invest up to $6 million to support a “Dream Team” that will focus on implementing advances in metastatic breast cancer research as rapidly as possible to benefit patients in the near future. The “Dream Team” will be announced in early 2019 and comprise some of the most talented researchers from multiple disciplines across Canada.
Canadians can also get involved by contributing to the update of the Canadian Strategy for Cancer Control. The Canadian Partnership Against Cancer is hosting consultations to inform the development of a modernized strategy. The goal is to better understand the diverse needs, values and priorities of Canadians when it comes to cancer prevention, detection, treatment, survival and end-of-life care. For more information, visit www.cancerstrategy.ca.
Canadians can also lower their risk of developing breast cancer by leading a healthy lifestyle—including eating a balanced diet, getting regular physical activity, maintaining a healthy body weight, and limiting alcohol intake—and following recommended screening guidelines.
This October, let’s all remember why we wear our pink ribbons—to raise awareness of breast cancer and to recognize those who continue to fight this disease. I encourage you to lower your risk by leading a healthy lifestyle and to speak to your health care provider about screening options for early detection.
The Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Health