Editorial: Breast cancer battle continues

Breast cancer remains the most common form of cancer in women

Over the years, great strides have been made in the battle against breast cancer, but it would be wrong to think it is no longer the problem it once was.

Survival rates have increased in developed countries but breast cancer remains the most common cancer in women worldwide.

Since 2008, breast cancer prevalence has increased by more than 20 per cent around the world, and mortality has increased by 14 per cent, according to the U.S.-based Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

The Canadian Cancer Society says breast cancer is the second leading cause of death from cancer in Canadian women. Screening and improvements in treatment for breast cancer have had the death rate on a decline in Canada since the mid-1980s but according to the Cancer Atlas, the five-year survival rate is 85.8 per cent, ranking us at No. 11.

That list is topped by Cyprus, with a 90.6 survival rate, and the U.S. at 88.6, so Canada still has a long ways to go.

There is also a lot of work needed to up the survival rate on a global scale — South Africa (53.4 per cent) and Jordan (43.1 per cent) place at the bottom of the Cancer Atlas ranking.

These figures are pretty depressing, but survivability is increasing all the time as new technologies are bringing earlier and more accurate diagnosis. New treatments and better medical understanding of the cancer are also contributing.

In the last 20 years, more than $360 million has been invested in breast cancer research by the Canadian Cancer Society and the former Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation combined, funding more than 1,000 research projects.

But it begins with awareness and support. Every October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month is marked in countries around the world — time to remember there is still a lot of work to do.

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