Breast Cancer Awareness Month

By: The Hon. Jane Cordy

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Hon. Jane Cordy: Honourable senators, I rise today to draw your attention to a cause that I know is important to so many of us here. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and I would like to take a moment to speak about this issue and why it remains crucial to raise awareness.

Senators and staff are indeed focused on that work. This year marked the eighth time that our Senate Sensations team, organized by Conservative staffer Karma Macgregor, participated in the CIBC Run for the Cure, raising not only awareness but over $12,000 for research and support for the cause. I thank all those who organized, participated in and donated to this event. It’s clear that breast cancer has affected the lives of so many.

Estimates show that about 1 in 8 Canadian women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime and, honourable senators, an estimated 1 in 34 Canadians will die from breast cancer.

Excluding non-melanoma skin cancers, breast cancer is the most common cause of cancer among Canadian women and the second leading cause of cancer death. We know that early detection and treatment leads to better outcomes, and though these statistics can sound scary, the death rate has actually been decreasing since its peak in 1986. This likely reflects the improvements in screening and treatment. Over 80% of female breast cancer cases are diagnosed at stage 1 or 2. In Canada, the probability of surviving at least five years after diagnosis is about 89%. These encouraging statistics remind us just how important it is to remain focused and to have regular screening.

Statistics Canada reported a drop in cancer diagnoses in 2020, which has generally been attributed to the disruptions in screening services that occurred during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. The domino effect of this could have devastating effects: Missed or delayed screenings will lead to missed or delayed diagnoses.

Breast Cancer Canada recently launched a PROgress Tracker Breast Cancer Registry where the capital P-R-O stands for patient-reported outcomes. We need more data, and this is one way to achieve that. Canada does not currently track race-based data around screening rates to help identify and combat race-based disparities, which we know exist.

Honourable colleagues, I invite you to join me in marking Breast Cancer Awareness Month by encouraging those who are eligible to participate in breast screening tests. Together, we can show our support for those fighting this disease, and we can continue to work towards improving outcomes for everyone.

Thank you.

Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.

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