Study Shows Progress in Breast Cancer Survivorship Over 15 Years

Study shows there are 2.5 times more breast cancer survivors since the last estimate was conducted in 2007.

Over a 15-year span from 2007 to 2021, there were 370,756 patients diagnosed with breast cancer in Canada, of whom 86% would have survived by 2022, according to a study recently published in the Journal of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network.

“This indicates that the prevalence of breast cancer survivors in the Canadian female population has doubled and that there are 2.5 times more survivors since the last estimate in 2007,” said Amy Kirkham, assistant professor in the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Kinesiology & Physical Education (KPE), in a press release.

The investigators sought to formulate an up-to-date estimate for the prevalence of breast cancer survivors in Canada in 2022 using the Canadian Cancer Society’s annual cancer statistic reports. The estimate indicates that breast cancer survivors represent 1% of Canadian women in the typical working and/or child-raising age group between 20 and 64 years of age, and 5.4% of senior Canadian women 65 years of age and older.

Although advancements in the treatment of breast cancer have improved mortality rates, it has also led to short- and long-term adverse effects (AEs), which can raise the risk of death from other causes, such as heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer disease, liver disease, as well as other non-fatal health outcomes, according to the study.

“The most common cause of death in women with breast cancer is heart disease,” Kirkham said in the release.

An additional analysis was conducted to demonstrate the additional health care costs associated with heart disease using Canadian data on rates of hospitalization for the condition as well as the costs. The data show that 2% of the women diagnosed with breast cancer between 2007 and 2021 would likely experience heart failure hospitalization, which accounts for $66.5 million in total.

Approximately 25% of these costs were greater than the costs that would be associated with women who did not have breast cancer, according to the study.

“Given the excess health-care costs, potential for reduced contributions to the workforce and reduced quality of life associated with long-term side effects and risk of excess death among breast cancer survivors, our work highlights that there is a growing segment of the population who require services to support recovery following breast cancer treatment," Kirkham said in the press release. “The goal of my research lab is to develop new therapies to improve the health of women after surviving breast cancer.”

REFERENCE

Percentage of breast cancer survivors in Canada doubles over past 15 years, study finds. University of Toronto. October 27, 2022. Accessed November 7, 2022. https://www.utoronto.ca/news/percentage-breast-cancer-survivors-canada-doubles-over-past-15-years-study-finds