Cafe Scientifique (2009)

Research in Alberta: Causes and Treatments of Breast Cancer
November 20, 2009

EVENT SUMMARY: Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers among Canadian women with one in nine women expected to develop breast cancer over her lifetime.  In 2009, an estimated 22,700 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer and one in 28 will die of it.  The first symptom of breast cancer is typically a lump that feels different from the surrounding breast tissue which is the result of abnormal cells multiplying out of control and forming a tumor.  Nobody knows the exact causes of breast cancer, but we do know that some people have a higher risk of developing it.  The primary risk factors include age, hormones, race, family history, diet, obesity, and environmental factors such as tobacco use, radiation and shift work.  Approximately 5% of newly diagnosed breast cancers are attributable to hereditary syndromes and experts believe that 95% of these cases can be traced to two genes: Breast Cancer 1 (BRCA1) and Breast Cancer 2 (BRCA2).  The stage of cancer is the most important factor in prognosis of a patient as it takes into consideration size, local involvement, lymph node status and whether metastatic disease is present.  The emotional impact of cancer diagnosis, symptoms, treatment and related issues can be severe.  Many hospitals are associated with cancer support groups, which provide a supportive environment to help patients cope and gain perspective from cancer survivors. 

Sponsored by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the University of Lethbridge, Cafe Scientifiques provide insight into health-related issues of interest to the general public in a casual atmosphere. A key feature is the interaction and discussion amongst the public and the researchers.