General Information

Although breast cancer prophylaxis, including monthly breast self-examination, yearly clinical breast examination and regular screening mammography, can not prevent breast cancer development, the cause of which is unknown, it may detect breast cancer in early, metastases free stages, while the tumour is small enough to be successfully treated. 


Although breast cancer in women under 35 years of age is rare, and its incidence increases after 50, no one can give you a guarantee that you will not find yourself among those who are affected by it, so arm yourself with a tool that may help you survive. 

                                                                         early detection

  • Each year, worldwide, there are about one million new cases of breast cancer and around five hundred thousand women die from it.

  • The lifetime risk (from birth to death) of developing breast cancer for a woman in United States is one out eight, in Canada - one out in nine.

  • Eighty percent of women who develop breast cancer have no family history of the disease.

  • For women, the increasing probability of developing cancer with each decade of life is greatest for breast, lung and colorectal cancer.

  • Cancer is the leading cause of death among women ages 40 to 79 and of those women, who have cancer; breast cancer is the main killer at ages 20 to 49 years, and lung cancer ranks first at age 50 years and older.

  • Breast cancer continues to be the most frequently diagnosed cancer in women. In 2011, four cancers (breast, lung, colorectal and prostate) will account for 54% of all cancers diagnosed in Canada.

  • In Canada breast cancer, which represents 28% of cancer cases in women, ranks second in mortality at 14%.; however lung cancer will continue as the leading cause of cancer death in 2011 among women living in North America.

  • In 2011 an estimated 230,480 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed among women in the United States and additional carcinoma in situ (CIS) - a noninvasive and earliest form of breast cancer, accounts for about 57,650 new cases each year.  In 2011 an estimated 23,400 women will be diagnosed of breast cancer in Canada

  • In 2011 an estimated new female breast cancer cases and deaths in the United States(US,2011statistics)invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed among 1,780 women under 40  carcinoma in situ (CIS) among 11,330 and 1,160 women are expected to die from breast cancer; under 50, invasive breast cancer among 14,240 women, carcinoma in situ among 50,430 and approximately 5,240 women die because of it

  • Breast cancer also occurs in men. An estimated 2,140 cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed in men in this year in US and 190 in Canada

  • In 2011, about 39,520 women and 450 men will die from breast cancer in the United States. In Canada an estimated 5300 women and 55 men will die from it in 2011

  • On average, every week 448 Canadian women will be diagnosed with breast cancer and 98 will die from it

  • Women living in North America have the highest rate of breast cancer in the world.

  • More than 95 percent of women whose breast cancer is found and treated in the early stage have a chance of surviving. At this time there are slightly over 2 million breast cancer survivors in the United States. In Canada 1.0% of the female population are survivors of breast cancer, diagnosed within the previous 15 years.

  • Breast cancer occurs primarily in females 5069 years of age. Twenty-eight percent of breast cancer cases will be diagnosed among women over the age of 69, while 19% will occur in those under age 50. For breast cancer, survival is significantly worse for those aged 1539 and 8099 at diagnosis
    compared to all other age groups.

  • Breast cancer is the most common cancer in females over the age of 20. Deaths from breast cancer are more frequent than other common cancers only in women 3039 years of age.

  • The best prognosis for breast cancer (89%) is among those diagnosed between the ages of 40 and 79; lower relative survival is seen for those diagnosed at both younger (84%) and older ages (79%).


Canadian Cancer Society

Canadian Cancer Statistics 2011(PDF)

American Cancer Society

Breast Cancer Facts & Figures 2011-2012 (PDF)

Cancer Facts & Figures 2011. (PDF).



Risk Factors


Risk for developing breast cancer is individual. It depends on a combination of lifestyle and personal traits known as "risk factors." The following risk factors are strongly related to the disease and can alert you and your physician to the need for careful follow-up:

  • Personal history of breast cancer. Women who have had breast cancer face an increased risk of getting breast cancer in their other breast.

  • Genetic alterations. Hereditary breast cancer makes up approximately 5% to 10% of all breast cancer. Some altered genes related to breast cancer are more common in certain ethnic groups. Changes in certain genes (BRCA1, BRCA2, and others) increase the risk of breast cancer.
    Men who have an altered gene related to breast cancer also have an increased risk of developing this disease.
    Tests have been developed that can detect altered genes. These genetic tests are sometimes done for members of families with a high risk of cancer.

  • A family history of breast cancer, especially in your mother, sister(s), or daughter(s)

  • Age - in general, the older you are, the greater your risk

  • First menstrual period at an early age (before age 12)

  • Late menopause (after age 55)

  • Hormone replacement therapy for long periods of time

  • Never having borne a child

  • Having your first child after age 30

  • A history of benign breast disease that required biopsies

  • Other breast conditions: lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS) or atypical hyperplasia.

  • Radiation therapy. Women whose breasts were exposed to radiation during radiation therapy before age 30, especially those who were treated with radiation for Hodgkin's disease, are at an increased risk for developing breast cancer

  • Breast tissue that is dense on a mammogram.

Because only  a direct relationship between breast cancer development and certain characteristics called risk factors can only be found in a certain percentage of women (20-30 %), debating them is not only common but also important since the idea behind prophylaxis is, in reality, about lowering the level of breast cancer development, especially by controlling those factors which can be influenced.


If you think you may be at risk, you should discuss this concern with your doctor. Your doctor may be able to suggest ways to reduce your risk and can plan a schedule for checkups.


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Clinical practice guidelines for the care and treatment of breast cancer



Breast Cancer

Wait Time in Canada 2008










Cooperating Organizations






updated: 2011

  Amberheart Breast Cancer Foundation