Breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in Canadian women. One in every nine women in Canada will develop breast cancer during her lifetime and one in 27 will die of it. Although men also can get breast cancer, more than 100 women are diagnosed for each man afflicted.
Early stage breast cancer has an excellent prognosis, with a five-year survival rate of over 90 percent. Currently, greater than two million women in North America are breast cancer survivors.
Cancer treatment varies depending on the type and stage of cancer and the age and medical history of the patient. Treatment may include surgery (lumpectomy or mastectomy), chemotherapy, radiation, hormone therapy or a combination of these therapies.
Of course, all these treatments have side effects. Breast surgery frequently results in decreased strength and range of motion of the affected shoulder and arm. Side effects from other treatments include fatigue, nausea, pain, difficulty sleeping, lowered self-concept, anxiety and depression. Weight gain is often associated with chemotherapy as well.