Metastatic Breast Cancer in Canada: The Facts
(NC) -- October is Breast Cancer Awareness month; an important time to acknowledge the approximately 24,600 Canadians who will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014. ¹Metastatic breast cancer (referred to as stage IV breast cancer) is the most serious form of the disease and occurs when the cancer has spread to other parts of the body, most commonly the bones, liver, lungs and brain.² Approximately 30 per cent of those initially diagnosed with earlier stages of breast cancer later develop recurrent and/or metastatic disease.³
Each day in Canada, more than three women will receive their first breast cancer diagnosis of locally advanced and/or metastatic disease.⁴ Metastatic breast cancer is currently considered an incurable disease that may be controlled through treatment, though survival rates remain low.⁵
“While some women affected by metastatic breast cancer are living longer there is still a significant need for more research, resources and new available treatment options,” said Cathy Ammendolea, Chair of the Canadian Breast Cancer Network (CBCN). “No matter where people are located within this country, it is important for them to feel supported and part of a greater network of Canadians who are facing similar challenges in understanding and managing their metastatic breast cancer.”
There are four main types of breast cancer.⁶ An important first step is to determine human epidermal growth factor-2 (HER2) and hormone receptor (HR) statuses of the breast tumour cells so that treatment can be optimized.⁷ Advanced hormone-receptor positive (HR+) breast cancer is the most common form. Approximately 70 per cent of all invasive breast cancers are HR+ at the time of diagnosis.⁸ Researchers are beginning to explore how genetic profiling can help to guide decision about which treatments are most appropriate. Personalized medicine, as it is referred to, works by assessing the genetic make-up of individual tumours and then tailoring the therapy to be more targeted.⁹
Research shows many women living with metastatic disease feel isolated from the greater breast cancer community.¹⁰ In recent years, treatments have continued to advance and therefore change the face of the disease¹¹, providing women with the opportunity to create more memories, share their wisdom, and advice with family and friends.
To learn more about metastatic breast cancer and to become part of the Living Legacy, visit the Canadian Breast Cancer Network website at www.cbcn.ca.
¹ CCS 2014 Stat http://www.cancer.ca/~/media/cancer.ca/CW/cancer%20information/cancer%20101/Canadian%20cancer%20statistics/Canadian-Cancer-Statistics-2014-EN.pdfAccessed July 26, 2013.
² MBCN.org http://mbcn.org/developing-awareness/category/13-things-everyone-should-know-about-metastatic-breast-cancer. Accessed Aug 11, 2014
³ Canadian Breast Cancer Network. Metastatic Breast Cancer in Canada Report. Available at: http://www.cbcn.ca/documents/cbcn_special_reports/MBCIC-Report.pdf. Accessed July 26, 2013.
⁴ Canadian Partnership Against Cancer. The 2014 Cancer System Performance Report. Available at: http://www.cancerview.ca/idc/groups/public/documents/webcontent/sp_report_2014.pdf. . Accessed August 13, 2014.
⁵ Canadian Breast Cancer Network. Metastatic Breast Cancer in Canada Report. Available at: http://www.cbcn.ca/documents/cbcn_special_reports/MBCIC-Report.pdf. Accessed July 26, 2013.
⁶ New England Journal of Medicine, Burstein, The Distinctive nature of HER2+ Cancers, http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp058197. Accessed August 11, 2014.
⁷ Redmond, C_BC Hormone Therapy options, pg. 1-6, 2010
⁸ Dobrescu, Andrei. Study of Estrogen Receptor and Progesterone Receptor Expression in Breast Ductal Carcinoma In Situ by Immunohistochemical Staining in ER/PgR-Negative Invasive Breast Cancer. May 9, 2011. Available at: http://www.isrn.com/journals/oncology/2011/673790/. Accessed on April 9, 2012.
⁹ Canadian Cancer Society http://www.cancer.ca/en/cancer-information/cancer-101/cancer-research/research-trends/personalized-medicine/?region=on. Accessed on August 6, 2014.
¹⁰ Count Us, Know Us, Join Us Advanced Breast Cancer Survey, Harris Interactive, sponsored by Novartis Oncology (2013). Available at: http://www.advancedbreastcancercommunity.org/countus/2013-global-survey.html?country=canada. Accessed July 26, 2013.
¹¹ Canadian Partnership Against Cancer Annual Highlights 2013/14 http://www.partnershipagainstcancer.ca/wp-content/uploads/CPAC-AR-English.pdf. Accessed August 14, 2014.