The Canadian Cancer Society has recently released their predictive stats for breast cancer in 2015. The good news is that there has been no change in incidence or mortality rates for young women with breast cancer. The bad news is that there has been no change in incidence or mortality rates for young women with breast cancer.

Cancer is still the leading cause of premature death in young adults and breast cancer is still the second leading cause of death in females (under age 50) next to lung cancer as measured by potential years of life lost (PYLL). PYLL provides an alternative measure to death rates by taking into account average life expectancy and giving more weight to deaths that occur among younger people. With regard to the most common cancers in women and men, the PYLL from female breast cancer (94,700) far exceeded that from prostate cancer (35,600), reflecting the relatively younger age at which women die from breast cancer according to Canadian Cancer Statistics.

The female breast cancer death rate has been declining since the mid-1980s. After its peak in 1986, the age-standardized mortality rate has fallen 43%, from 32.0 deaths per 100,000 in 1986 to a projected rate of 18.4 deaths per 100,000 in 2014. The downward trend has accelerated to 2.4% per year since 2000, which is likely due to a combination of increased mammography screening and the use of more effective therapies following breast cancer surgery. The breast cancer mortality rate in Canada is the lowest it has been since 1950.

Although the rates have stabilized since 2002, life expectancy for women with metastatic breast cancer have also increased thanks to new treatments and targeting therapies.

In general, breast cancer stats have remained stable, with 18% of breast cancer cases occurring in women under the age of 50. What does this mean for the future of young women?

It means we still need to address treatment and care issues include delays in diagnosis, generally more advanced cancers at diagnosis and higher mortality rates, low participation in clinical trials, lack of age-appropriate care, concerns around social support during cancer treatment, as well as late effects of treatment, second cancers and long-term psychosocial issues for cancer survivors.

Rethink Breast Cancer will be at the forefront in addressing these concerns through helping young people asses their risk, funding research studies like Baby Time, providing savvy education and awareness so that women are able to take their health in their own hand like our Your Man Reminder campaign and provide targeted resources to meet the psychosocial needs of young women with breast cancer globally through programs like LiveLaughLearn. Stay tuned!