Breast Cancer Awareness Month - October
Devastating To All Of Those Who Are Diagnosed Or Have A Loved One Diagnosed, breast cancer is the most common type of cancer and the second leading cause of cancer-related death in Canadian women (lung cancer is first). For Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we want to do our part to spread the word on what exactly breast cancer is, who gets it and why regular screenings for early detection is key. What is breast cancer? Broadly termed, cancer is a class of diseases characterized by the appearance of abnormal, mutated cells that grow, multiply and invade healthy cells, forming cancerous (malignant) tumours. Specifically, with breast cancer, these tumours can be felt within the breast tissue as hard lumps. They can also be spotted in x-rays. How does it spread? The abnormal cells begin breaking away from the original tumour. They can then enter blood vessels or lymph vessels, which branch into tissues throughout the entire body. This process of cancer cells travelling to other body parts and damaging additional tissues and organs is known as metastasis, and it’s one of the reasons that early cancer detection is critical to a person’s survival rate. What are the risk factors? Most women who get breast cancer cannot determine exactly why it happened to them, however there are some known risk factors associated with this disease. Obviously, gender is a huge factor, as breast cancer occurs nearly 100 times more in women than in men. However, this doesn’t mean it’s impossible for men to be diagnosed with breast cancer. So, men should still take notice of any unusual lumps in their breast tissue. Most cancer is diagnosed after the age of 55, and if you have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer you have an increased risk of being diagnosed. Other risk factors include dense breast tissue, making lumps harder to detect, as well as certain genome changes, which can be determined through genetic testing. Breast Cancer by the Numbers 1 in 8 Canadian women will be affected by breast cancer An estimated 26,300 women and 230 men in Canada will be diagnosed in 2017 There is a 1 in 30 probability that a Canadian woman will die from breast cancer in her lifetime Breast cancer mortality rates have decreased by 44% since 1987 In Canada, almost 5000 women and 43 men will die from breast cancer in 2017 Breast cancer makes up 26% of the cancer diagnosed in Canada Although it’s still the most common cancer diagnosis in Canadian women and the second leading cause of cancer deaths in Canadian women, fewer women are dying from breast cancer today than in the past. Thanks to earlier detection made possible by advances in screening technology, raised awareness about the importance of early detection, regular mammograms, and improved treatment methods, the mortality rates have declined from 41.7 deaths per 100,000 in 1987 to 23.4 deaths per 100,000 in 2016. The Canadian Cancer Society recommends women with an average risk of developing breast cancer to be screened starting at the age of 50, with new tests performed every two years. Women aged 40 and above who have a family history of cancer should talk to their doctor about early screening. Some researchers are exploring the cancer and cannabis connection, trying to determine if the active compounds in cannabis may help. These studies include: JunD is involved in the antiproliferative effect of Delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol on human breast cancer cells. The endogenous cannabinoid anandamide inhibits nhibits human breast cancer cell proliferation. Delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol inhibits cell cycle progression in human breast cancer cells through Cdc2 regulation. Cannabidiolic acid-mediated selective down-regulation of c-fos in highly aggressive breast cancer MDA-MB-231 cells: possible involvement of its down-regulation in the abrogation of aggressiveness. Cannabinoids and gliomas. Like with many other medical conditions, much more research needs to happen in order to help cure and completely eliminate breast cancer. In the meantime, awareness and support are important steps you can take personally and within your community, as well as making sure you and your loved ones are screened as recommended.