Myth: If you get breast cancer you will die from it.

No. It is very much possible to survive a breast cancer diagnosis and to have a full recovery or no evidence of disease (NED or no visible sign of cancer) after treatment. The average 5-year survival ratio for women of all ages with breast cancer is 87% (89.7% in the U.S.). This is very high in comparison to other cancers and treatments have come a long way!

In Canada, the breast cancer mortality rate has fallen 44%. According to the Canadian Cancer Society, on average, for every 100,000 females, only 23.2 will die from the disease. In the United States, per 100,000 females only an average 21.2 will die from the disease.

Statistics tell us that cancer is the leading cause of death in Canada. Images of cancer we see in the media or in films don’t always portray it as recoverable. So, as a society, we often associate the word “cancer” with death. However, in reality, the overall breast cancer mortality rates in Canada and the United States have been decreasing greatly over the past decades. This is likely due to improved overall cancer control, including increased mammography screening and the use of more effective therapies following breast cancer surgery. The 5-year survival rate, specifically for young women under 40, is steadily improving at 85%.

While there is still a lot to do in terms of research for new and improved breast cancer treatments (particularly for metastatic breast cancer) and while it’s still important to limit our exposure to known carcinogens, it’s also important to keep complicated topics from being misinterpreted and spread as frightening rumours. Right now, many women are surviving breast cancer diagnoses and this is something we should be proud of!

Click here to get more breast cancer facts.

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