Breast cancer survivorship doubles

It was the information she couldn’t find that led Amy Kirkham, an assistant professor in the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Kinesiology & Physical Education (KPE), to her latest discovery.

Asked by the Canadian Women’s Heart Health Alliance to co-author a scientific statement paper in 2020 on the state of women’s heart health in Canada, Kirkham — whose research is focused on preventing and treating the risk of heart disease related to breast cancer treatment — needed to know what percentage of the Canadian female population has a history of breast cancer.

But the most recent statistic she could find — one percent — was from 2007.

“Nearly 15 years had passed and I could not find a more recent citation about the prevalence of breast cancer survivors in Canada,” says Kirkham. “Breast cancer mortality rates had continued to improve 26 per cent over this time period, so I suspected that this number was no longer accurate.”

So, in collaboration with Katarzyna Jerzak, a medical oncologist at Sunnybrook Odette Cancer Centre and assistant professor in the department of medicine in U of T’s Temerty Faculty of Medicine, Kirkham embarked on a new study that would determine an up-to-date estimate of the prevalence of breast cancer survivors in Canada in 2022 using the Canadian Cancer Society’s annual cancer statistic reports.

The study, recently published in the Journal of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, found that in the 15-year span from 2007 to 2021, there were 370,756 patients (2.1 per cent of the adult female population in Canada in 2022) diagnosed with breast cancer and 86 per cent of these women would have survived breast cancer by 2022.

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