About Women's Cancers

Among Canadian women, breast cancer continues to be the most frequently diagnosed cancer with as many as 23,200 new cases diagnosed in 2010, nearly twice as many as lung cancer. Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer mortality among women, and is expected to take the lives of 5,400 Canadian women in 2010.

Signs and Symptoms
If any of these signs or symptoms are detected, a doctor should be seen as soon as possible:
  • A lump in the breast or under the arm area
  • An inverted nipple
  • Crusting or reddening of the nipple, or patchy areas on the nipple
  • Discharge or bleeding from the nipple
  • Changes to the shape and size of the breast
  • Changes to the skin of the breast
  • Changes in skin temperature of the breast

Experts agree that early detection is the key to cancer survival. Use the following guidelines to develop a screening schedule that is right for you:

  • Mammography (once every two years recommended for women ages 50 to 69)
  • Clinical examination (once every two years recommended for women over 40)
  • Self-examination is another important aspect of early detection.

Family history can play a role in whether an individual will develop breast cancer. If any immediate family members have been diagnosed with breast cancer before menopause, be sure to alert your physician. He/she may adjust your screening schedule accordingly.

Risk Factors
No one thing causes breast cancer, but there are a few common factors that seem to increase risk of developing it:

  • Family history of breast or ovarian cancer
  • Early menstruation
  • Late menopause
  • Having taken hormone replacement therapy for more than five years
  • Never having given birth
  • Giving birth for the first time over the age of 30
  • Dense breast tissue
  • An increased number of non-cancerous cells in the breast
  • Radiation treatment to the chest area before age 30
  • Being over the age of 50
  • Obesity, alcohol consumption and the use of birth control pills may also slightly increase risk.

Breast cancer treatment and care today is so customized that a specialized treatment plan is tailored to the needs of the individual patient. Breast cancer treatment may include:

  • A lumpectomy removes the tumour while conserving most of the breast.
  • A mastectomy removes the entire breast and sometimes the lymph nodes.
  • Radiation is used to treat many stages of breast cancer and frequently used after a lumpectomy.
  • Biological therapy helps the body's immune system fight cancer.
  • Herceptin is used to treat human epidermal growth factor positive (HER2) tumours.

These facts are staggering and bring much sadness to the lives that have been affected by these diseases. A future free of women's cancers starts with your commitment to walk, fundraise, and raise awareness today. Pledge to do something meaningful and sign up for The Weekend.

Compiled by Star Library
Source: Canadian Cancer Society, American Cancer Society, U.S. National Cancer Institute, U.S. National Library of Medicine, U.S. Centers for Disease Control, U.S. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, U.S. National Science Foundation, Star files.