Volume 91, Issue 21

Thursday, October 2, 1997



Breast cancer deaths down

By Sandra Dimitrakopoulos
Gazette Staff

A new study at the University of Toronto may bring renewed hope for those at risk for breast cancer, but some are still concerned about what this study means for Canadians.

The report, based largely on a sample of white American women, found there was a decreased death rate of over four per cent between 1989 and 1992 for those diagnosed with breast cancer.

This reduction was based on findings which indicated risk could be greatly reduced if women aged 40 to 49 were tested, rather than waiting until age 50. It is current policy in Canada that women are not tested by mammography for breast cancer until they reach age 50.

The study was the result of many reports indicating breast cancer indicidences had gone up in recent years, said Judy-Anne Chapman, a bio-statistician for the Henrietta Banting Breast Cancer Centre of Women's College Hospital at the Univeristy of Toronto.

"We wanted to review what was going on in Canada but there was very little available data," Chapman said, adding it can be hard to make needed changes to policies without data support.

Barbara Whylie, director of medical affairs at the Canadian Cancer Society, said rates of breast cancer have also decreased in Canada yet they do not believe early testing can affect these rates.

"Before menopause breast tissue is more dense and therefore it is harder to determine if there is a tumor, making mammography testing less useful."

Cindy Camp, health education coordinator at Western's Student Health Services, said mammography testing can unnecessarily expose women to radiation, adding breast self-examination can be just as successful and is much healthier for students.

Meanwhile, the CIBC Run for a Cure, supported by the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, will take place Sunday in Springbank Park in London at 10 a.m..

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Copyright The Gazette 1997