October: Breast Cancer Awareness Month
Thank you, October, for bringing awareness to such an important topic! Breast Cancer. One in eight women will get breast cancer in their lifetime and it is considered the most common cancer in women! Although the survival rate has significantly increased over the years, some women still lack knowledge about the practice of self-examination and breast health. For this reason, it is important to talk about preventative measures, health promotion tips and some of the statistics to help both men and women to decrease their risks of developing breast cancer.
Did you Know?
According to the Canadian Cancer Society, in 2022, it was estimated that:
- Around 28,600 women were diagnosed with breast cancer which represents 25% of all new cancer cases in women in 2022 (1).
- Roughly 5,500 Canadian women died from breast cancer which represents 14% of all cancer deaths in women in 2022 (1).
- On average, 78 Canadian women were diagnosed with breast cancer every day with 15 daily deaths (1).
- Around 270 Canadian men were diagnosed with breast cancer and roughly 55 died from it (1).
Cancer Care Ontario reported:
- Breast cancer was expected to be the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Ontario women in 2020 (2).
- Breast cancer has one of the highest survival rates of all cancer types in Ontario (2).
- The chance of getting breast cancer increases with age. In Ontario, breast cancer usually develops later in life, with over 83% of cases diagnosed in women over age 50 (2).
- Only 5% to 10% of women with breast cancer have a family history of the disease (2).
- Fewer than 1 out of 100 women are at high risk of getting breast cancer (2).
According to the Government of Canada:
- Breast cancer is the 2nd most common cancer in Canada (3).
- 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime (3).
- In women, breast cancer is the #1 cancer (3).
- 82% of female breast cancer cases are diagnosed early in their development, at Stages I and II (3).
- The probability of surviving breast cancer at least five years after diagnosis is about 88% in Canada (3).
What to Do
Screening for breast cancer with mammography every 2 years is recommended for average-risk women aged 50 to 74. However, if you are 30 to 69 years of age and confirmed high risk, it is recommended to get a mammogram together with an MRI or ultrasound every year (4). Speak with your healthcare team if you have a medical and/or family history of breast cancer. Additionally, it’s important to learn how to do a breast self-examination (BSE) as this practice can lead to early detection of breast cancer.
- Self-examination is best one week after the beginning of the period because this is when the breasts are less swollen and less tender. If you have irregular menstrual cycles or no longer have menstruation, pick a date of the month that is easy to remember. You will do this every month on this date.
- Lying down, put one arm above your head and use the opposite hand to palpate the breast. Use the pad of your middle fingers (index, middle and ring fingers only). Palpate gently and slowly the entire area. From your collarbone downwards including your armpits. Avoid lifting your fingers away from the skin while palpating.
- Do the same on the opposite side.
It is also important to feel the breasts while in the shower as soapy fingers can help detect lumps. Look in front of the mirror. Pay attention to any abnormality. Lean slightly forward. Are there any changes? How about the colour? Any discharge from the nipples? Does the skin look the same on both sides?
If ever in doubt, ask your healthcare provider for tips on how to do an effective breast self-examination.
This entire recipe including chef’s tips was developed and presented by Food Innovation & Research Studio (FIRSt), George Brown College, Toronto (5).
Salmon, Leek, & Dill Chowder
- 1 tbsp. Olive oil
- 2 cups Leeks, trimmed and thinly sliced
- 1 tsp. Salt
- ½ tsp. Black pepper
- 1 cup Yukon potato, cut into ½-inch cubes
- ½ cup Frozen corn niblets
- 2 cups Partly skimmed 2% milk
- 2 cups No salt added vegetable stock
- 10 oz. Salmon, skin removed and cut into bite size pieces
- 2 tbsps. Fresh dill, finely chopped
- ¼ cup Slivered almonds, toasted
- Heat a large pot over medium heat. Once the pot is hot, add the oil and leeks. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 10 minutes, or until leeks are tender.
- Add potatoes, corn, milk, and vegetable stock. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Add the salmon and continue to cook for 5 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender and the salmon is cooked through.
- Remove from heat and stir in the dill.
- Garnish with almonds before serving.
- Fresh dill can be substituted with 2 tsp freeze-dried dill.
- Add a squeeze of fresh lemon for an extra zing!
Although fatigue can be a great reason why people do not exercise routinely, it is important to remember that exercising improves the cardiovascular system and decreases obesity. Having said that, physical activities do not have to involve heavy lifting or hours of exertion. Start a new routine slowly and find things that work best for you. Time yourself. Try walking for 15 minutes and add another 15 minutes back. Try doing that five times a week. How does it feel? If five times a week sounds a little too much, try walking for 25 minutes and add another 25 minutes back, three times a week, instead.
Remember the number is 150! 150 minutes of moderate exercises per week.
It is important to highlight that if a breast was removed (a procedure known as mastectomy), there could be pain, swelling and/or tingling sensation in the arm, armpit or chest area. At times, there could be a build-up of fluids near the area where the breast was removed, including the arm. This is known as lymphedema. If this ever happens, avoid lifting anything heavy. Speak with your healthcare provider to understand if there are limitations and exercises you should try to avoid.
Little changes can lead to great things! Keep your heart going and embrace your new routine!
- Canadian Cancer Society (2022). Breast cancer statistics. https://cancer.ca/en/cancer-information/cancer-types/breast/statistics
- Cancer Care Ontario (n.d.). Ontario breast screening program. https://www.cancercareontario.ca/en/cancer-care-ontario/programs/screening-programs/ontario-breast-obsp
- Government of Canada (n.d.). Breast Cancer in Canada. https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/publications/diseases-conditions/breast-cancer.html
- Government of Ontario (2021). Breast Cancer Testing and Prevention. https://www.ontario.ca/page/breast-cancer-testing-and-prevention?gclid=CjwKCAjw5pShBhB_EiwAvmnNV6sknq5CeDZEKjFmCiZaitoJJOMlYZeBWHCPAnQgbRlTqJqAUtWbEhoCcqQQAvD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds
- Foods that Fight Cancer. Recipes. https://www.foodsthatfightcancer.ca/salmon-leek-dill-chowder/
The content posted here is not intended to be a substitute for diagnosis or treatment, but for educational purposes only.