Did you know how serious breast cancer is? Probably not. It’s the number-one diagnosed cancer in the world. While women make up more than half the population on planet earth, many women’s issues don’t make the daily newscasts unless it’s an obvious step backwards like removing abortion rights in the United States — or much worse in places like Afghanistan.
Breast Cancer Canada, formerly the Breast Cancer Society of Canada, has been the leading organization for breast cancer research in this country for 30 years. With a focus on precision oncology (personalized care/medicine) it is the only breast cancer organization in Canada that has a clear mandate to raise money for research. Tellingly, it receives no government funding. All research is funded by donors.
Despite the pervasiveness of the disease, according to a new national survey Canadians felt unprepared when they, or a loved one, received a breast cancer diagnosis. The Know More Breast Cancer Survey, an Angus Reid study of 1,508 Canadians, reveals a big disconnect between what Canadians know, and the research available.
Here’s another tell. Three-quarters of respondents (77%) were unable to provide even an approximate guess when asked how many known types of breast cancer there are. Only one per cent were able to provide the correct answer of more than 50.
“This shows that although progress in research has been rapid, general awareness is lacking among Canadians,” says Breast Cancer Canada.
According to the organization:
With pandemic restrictions lifting, 50 per cent of people who responded stated they had delayed hospital visits during the pandemic. Also, almost 60 per cent of respondents put off routine medical checkups over the past two years – women being more likely than men to do so.
“Given that one-in-eight women in Canada will develop breast cancer in their lifetime, the results from our Angus Reid poll were shocking to see,” said Kimberly Carson, CEO of Breast Cancer Canada. “Clearly, there is an opportunity for Canadians to know more about the disease that affects us all.”
The study shows that 87 per cent of respondents diagnosed with breast cancer felt unprepared when they or a loved one received their diagnosis. One-quarter of women are not worried about getting breast cancer because it is not common in their families and nearly six-in-10 men feel that they would lack the knowledge of how to help, or where to look for help, if a woman in their life were diagnosed with breast cancer.
On a positive note, 74 per cent of Canadians trust healthcare professionals to properly identify, diagnose and treat cancer.
“Any cancer diagnosis feels earth-shattering,” said Kimberley Carson, CEO of Breast Cancer Canada. “We are committed to demystifying research and information so that people feel less afraid when they, or a loved one, receives an unexpected diagnosis.”
It is no surprise that diagnosis catches so many off guard, as three-quarters of women responded that they could learn more about breast cancer and how it could affect them.
Breast Cancer Canada is funding a new era of research that presents knowledge in a fresh way, making lifesaving information accessible. The “Know more” campaign evokes raw emotion featuring both researchers and patients with messages including “Behind every survivor is a researcher on a mission.”
CANCER IN CANADA
According to the Canadian Cancer Society, 2 in 5 Canadians (44% of men and 43% of women) are expected to develop cancer during their lifetime. About 1 out of 4 Canadians (26% of men and 22% of women) is expected to die from cancer.
While cancer mostly affects Canadians aged 50 and older, it can occur at any age. Cancer incidence rates vary because of differences in risks and in early detection practices. Mortality rates may vary due to differences in screening, diagnosis, treatment and follow-up across the country.
WHAT IS CANCER?
This is not a simple question. According to the Mayo Clinic, cancer refers to more than 100 diseases characterized by the development of abnormal cells that divide uncontrollably and can infiltrate and destroy normal body tissue. It is the second-leading cause of death in the world.
Cancer.net, the platform of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), “the voice of the world’s oncology professionals.”
Canadian Cancer Society
If you enjoyed this article, check out: The stigma effect: how mental illness and size interfered with my cancer diagnosis.